We just shared the first images of Liam Neeson being a badass in Taken 2, and now official word comes that he’s set to topline an adaptation of Lawrence Block’s crime novel A Walk Among the Tombstones. Moreover, Scott Frank is set to direct from a script that he wrote. The film centers on an alcoholic ex-cop who investigates the kidnapping of a heroin drug lord’s wife. Last we heard, D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) was in talks to direct Frank’s script, but today Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures have announced that Frank himself will be stepping into the director’s chair.
Frank wrote and directed the 2007 crime pic The Lookout, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, of which I’m a big fan. The director took an atypical approach to the visuals and crafted some seriously interesting characters, so I feel confident that A Walk Among the Tombstones won’t simply be another bland, “gritty actioner with a male lead” that gets lost in the shuffle. Neeson’s a busy guy, so production on Tombstones won’t get underway until February 2013 in New York City. Nevertheless, this is definitely a project to keep an eye on. Hit the jump for the press release.
Cannes, CA (May 17, 2012) – Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures have entered into a three year 50-50 co-financing, co-producing, co-development deal for a minimum of two feature films per annum with budgets up to $65m. All films under this new arrangement will be released theatrically in the US through Cross Creek’s slate distribution deal with Universal Pictures. Exclusive Media will retain and sell international rights to the titles. The announcement was made today by Exclusive Media Co-Chairmen Nigel Sinclair and Guy East and Cross Creek President, Brian Oliver.
Following the partnership on Ron Howard’s RUSH, also to be released through Cross Creek’s distribution deal with Universal Pictures, the first film being produced and financed under this new far reaching arrangement is the thriller A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES starring Liam Neeson (TAKEN). Written and to be directed by Scott Frank (THE LOOKOUT), the film is one of the popular ‘Matt Scudder’ book series written by Lawrence Block.
Double Feature Films partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher are producing with Danny DeVito and his company, Jersey Films. Principal photography is set to start in February 2013 on location in New York City.
“We feel like we won the trifecta by getting the one star who is perfect for Scott’s great script that he was born to direct,” said Shamberg and Sher.
Formerly a cop with the NYPD, now an unlicensed private eye and a recovering alcoholic haunted by past mistakes, Matt Scudder (NEESON) is hired to find the kidnapped wife of a drug dealer. He operates just outside the law where the police don’t go to track down the kidnappers, who he discovers have been involved in multiple kidnappings and brutal murders.
“We have long enjoyed a fulfilling business partnership with Brian and his team at Cross Creek, creating success with THE IDES OF MARCH, THE WOMAN IN BLACK and now RUSH, among others. We feel very confident to formalise and strengthen our development, financing and production arrangement with Brian and we are thrilled to start this new chapter with such a commercial project,” commented Nigel Sinclair and Guy East
Exclusive Media’s COO Marc Schipper negotiated the development and production deal with Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver. Tobin Armbrust, Exclusive Media’s President of Worldwide Production and Acquisitions will be overseeing the new relationship.
The arrangement also gives both companies the first opportunity right to co-finance and co-produce pictures outside those set for the Universal pipeline.
In addition to the picture by picture financing responsibilities, both companies are jointly creating a six figure revolving development fund to source additional properties.
Alex Walton, Exclusive Media’s President of International Sales and Distribution will introduce A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES to overseas buyers at the Cannes Film Market.
Oscar nominee Liam Neeson is one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actors having starred in three hit films released in 2012 so far: Open Road Films’ THE GREY opposite Dermot Mulroney and Frank Grillo, Warner Bros. Pictures’ WRATH OF THE TITANS opposite Sam Worthington and Ralph Fiennes, and Universal’s BATTLESHIP co-starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård and Rihanna, with the last two films currently in theatres. He will next be seen in the highly anticipated final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES to be released in July. He also starred in the worldwide box office hit TAKEN opposite Maggie Grace and will be reprising his role as Bryan Mills in the sequel, TAKEN 2 to be distributed in October via 20th Century Fox. Neeson was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Steven Spielberg’s SCHLINDER’S LIST.
Writer/director Scott Frank was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Steven Soderbergh’s OUT OF SIGHT, starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. His extensive writing credits include GET SHORTY, MINORITY REPORT, THE INTERPRETER, and MARLEY AND ME. He made his impressive feature film directing debut with the critically acclaimed THE LOOKOUT starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode and Isla Fisher, which he also wrote and was released through Miramax Films. The film won the Best First Feature Award at the Independent Spirit Awards.
Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher have extensive credits including CONTAGION and WORLD TRADE CENTER. Along with DeVito, their hits also include GET SHORTY, OUT OF SIGHT, GATTACA, ALONG CAME POLLY, and MAN ON THE MOON. Shamberg has been nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Picture, first for Lawrence Kasdan’s THE BIG CHILL followed by Steven Soderbergh’s ERIN BROCKOVICH which he shared with Stacey Sher and Danny DeVito.
DeVito, Shamberg and Sher were executive producers on Quentin Tarantino’s iconic PULP FICTION. Sher is producing and Shamberg is executive producing his next film, DJANGO UNCHAINED, which is in production and stars Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, and Samuel L. Jackson out in theatres at Christmas through The Weinstein Company and Sony Pictures. Shamberg and Sher are also currently producing Runner Runner for New Regency starring Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck. DeVito, Shamberg, and Sher are in pre-production on MANHUNT starring Gerard Butler. DeVito recently produced ST. SEBASTIAN, which he also directed, starring William Fichtner, Lance Reddick and Constance Zimmer.
Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures have already been enjoying a fruitful partnership having jointly co-produced George Clooney’s THE IDES OF MARCH with Smokehouse Pictures, the box office hit THE WOMAN IN BLACK starring Daniel Radcliffe released by CBS Films and the highly anticipated RUSH directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl. Currently in production, RUSH is also produced with Imagine Entertainment, Working Title, Brian Grazer, and Revolution Films. Universal Pictures will release the film in the US in 2013. The companies also recently announced their collaboration on Exclusive Media’s Hammer label titles BONESHAKER and THE WOMAN IN BLACK follow up, THE WOMAN IN BLACK: ANGELS OF DEATH from a story by Susan Hill and produced with Talisman and Alliance Films.
Exclusive Media is a major force in the production and international distribution arena. In addition to RUSH, its current production slate, available to buyers at Cannes, include the newly announced action comedy AGENT: CENTURY 21 starring Cameron Diaz and Benicio Del Toro; THE QUIET ONES, to be directed by John Pogue and starring Jared Harris and Sam Claflin; END OF WATCH starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick and America Ferrera set for release through Open Road Films on September 28; SO UNDERCOVER starring Miley Cyrus; and SNITCH starring Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon in post-production and to be released in the US through Summit Entertainment.