While director David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is far from a box office bomb, the feature film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling crime novel hasn’t exactly broken records. The $90 million pic has grossed a little over $60 million domestically since its release on December 20th, but given the widespread popularity of Larsson’s book series many believed the film would be performing better. While Sony has been planning on adapting all three books in Larsson’s Millennium series from the start, Dragon Tattoo’s box office performance had me wondering if their plan would be altered. My question was given an answer today, with the news that Sony is still moving forward with an adaptation of The Girl Who Played with Fire. Hit the jump for more.
When we reported that Sony Pictures had planned to adapt Assassin’s Creed, we told you that “Ubisoft has set the terms of the deal to be a more active participant in the movie’s development.” Mark that as the understatement of the year, because details have emerged suggesting that Ubisoft now exercises an unheard of amount of control over the project. Says one insider: “As a director, even Steven Spielberg cannot get this kind of deal.”
Sony apparently has granted Ubisoft control over the budget, casting, script and release date, in a deal that sets a dangerous precedent. Though, in the history of video game franchises made into movies, there have been more busts than blockbusters. Perhaps Ubisoft and Sony think this is the answer to the problem. Or perhaps Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot threatened the studio execs with a hidden blade. Hit the jump for more details.
Studios continue the search for the next great teen franchise to fill the void left behind by Harry Potter and Twilight. Today, two novel series have been picked up for film adaptations. BZRK, by author Michael Grant, has been acquired by Sony Pictures as the first of a trilogy for Sam Raimi and Josh Donen at Stars Road. The premise pits a team of guerilla-group teenagers against supervillain conjoined twins, with both sides battling it out through the use of nanobot warriors.
The wildly successful House of Night series by mother-daughter authors P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast has been acquired by Samuel Hadida of Davis Films. Firmly entrenched in vampire mythology, the series follows teenager Zoey Redbird as she journeys to the House of Night boarding school where she is trained to survive as an adult “vampiyre.” Hit the jump for more on both projects.
Sony is moving forward with the comedy Sex Tape, as they’ve got their eye on a couple of actors to take the leads. Deadline reports that the studio is keen on Jason Segel and Reese Witherspoon to star in the Kate Angelo-scripted pic. The film centers on a married couple who, on a night off from their kids, decide to make a sex tape. When they wake up in the morning to find the tape missing, they head out on an adventure to find it. Nicholas Stoller, who helmed Forgetting Sarah Marshall and co-scripted The Muppets alongside Segel, is in talks to direct. The concept sounds fun, if a little similar to the Steve Carell/Tina Fey comedy Date Night. Hopefully Sex Tape is a good deal less PG than the Shawn Levy pic. Judging by the title, I’d say it’s a safe bet that this won’t be one for the whole family.
Segel has more than proven himself a comedic talent, and Witherspoon can actually be quite good in the genre given the right material, so I actually quite like this pairing. Segel recently wrapped The Five-Year Engagement, and Witherspoon is currently filming the Jeff Nichols drama Mud. [Update: Variety reports that Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Rose Byrne, and Jennifer Garner are also in the mix with Witherspoon as possible female leads.]
Mere days after the incredibly sad passing of pioneer Steve Jobs, we reported that Sony had acquired the rights to the authorized biography by Walter Isaacson and was planning a biopic. Jobs’ life is definitely one of great interest, but nailing down a tactful film based on his life is going to be a very tough task. Sony seems to be moving ahead with the film, and apparently Aaron Sorkin is being courted to take on scripting duties. Sorkin is an inspired choice, and I could really think of no one better to capture the visionary spirit of Jobs. Though no decisions have been made, the Social Network writer is said to be considering the prospect. Hit the jump for more.
The October 28 release date of Anonymous is fast approaching, but Sony is making a last-minute change in the distribution plan. Pre-release surveys predict a weak opening weekend (under $5 million) if Anonymous were thrust into the unforgiving expectations of a wide release. Instead, per Company Town, Sony will scale back the open the film in just 250 theaters rather than thousands. Anonymous came out of Toronto with surprisingly positive early reviews for a Roland Emmerich picture. Sony distribution president Rory Bruer explained the plan: “We love the picture and think it’s going to get great word of mouth. We’re committed to expanding it until it plays wide.” The Shakespearean tale at the center of Anonymous could play well in the arthouses—I am very curious to see how the platform plays out.
Hit the jump for details on the postponement of Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden movie and the move of the Kevin James MMA comedy Here Comes the Boom.
It’s time for a status check on Southpaw. Last we heard, DreamWorks let the project go, and the filmmakers were shopping it elsewhere. I have been rooting for Southpaw to find a home because of the intriguing collection of talent: Eminem starring, Antoine Fuqua (Brooklyn’s Finest) directing, a script by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy). Southpaw won’t need to wander too much longer, because that project also enticed a number of studio suitors. MGM is reportedly the frontrunner to acquire the film with a bid that places Sony in charge of distribution.
Sutter’s script follows a welterweight boxing champion (Eminem) whose life is upended when tragedy strikes. Hit the jump for more on the story, including Sutter’s explanation of how it parallels Eminem’s career.
By now, most of the world knows that Apple visionary Steve Jobs has passed away from his battle with pancreatic cancer. As is normally the case with such high-profile individuals as Jobs, people want to know their life story to commiserate with their struggles and celebrate their successes. So it comes as no surprise that the soon-to-be-published biography, Steve Jobs, has already sold its feature rights.
Sony Pictures has acquired the rights to the only authorized bio by Walter Isaacson, the former CNN chairman and Time Magazine managing editor. The hot commodity became even hotter with the news of Jobs’ death, moving its publication date up almost a month. This feature will mark the second movie chronicling Jobs’ rise, the first being The Pirates of Silicon Valley, which TNT re-aired recently. Hit the jump for more on the project.
As confirmation that anything and everything is getting a remake, Sony has tapped a scribe to start work on a contemporary update of Joel Schumacher’s 1990 thriller Flatliners. Heat Vision reports that Ben Ripley, who most recently scripted Duncan Jones’ sci-fi surprise hit Source Code, will pen the screenplay. The original flick tells the story of a group of medical students who willingly induce clinical death in order to find out if there’s anything on the other side. The super 90’s cast includes Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Billy Baldwin and Oliver Platt.
The original film isn’t really anything special, but it’s endearing in a silly 90’s sci-fi sort of way. I really enjoyed Source Code, so maybe Ripley can bring something new to the table. Laurence Mark (Julie and Julia) is set to produce.
Never underestimate the power of kids. While all eyes were on Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens, Sony’s The Smurfs ended up being the film that brought audiences in in droves this July, raking in $35 million in its first weekend. Suffice it to say, kids the country over were begging their parents to take them to the movie with the little blue guys, and a large number of parents acquiesced. We reported last week that Sony had already slated The Smurfs 2 for August 2, 2013, and now THR reports that the first film’s writers have just turned in a draft for a sequel.
Writing teams David Stem and David Weiss and Jay Scherick and David Ronn began working on the sequel’s story back in the spring (a bit confident, eh Sony?), and Stem and Weiss then went off to write the actual script, which director Raja Gosnell and producer Jordan Kerner told Steve about in their interview back in June. So it sure sounds like things are off and running for the follow-up.
AMC may have some of the best dramatic series on TV right now, but they’ve had a hell of a time working out the details. There was the negotiations drama with Mad Men, the behind-the-scenes creative shuffling on The Walking Dead, and recently trying to get more Breaking Bad to stay on AMC while controlling costs. Deadline reports that Sony (the company behind the show) and AMC have come to an agreement over the $3 million price tag for the series’ budget. The new agreement will bring a 16-episode final season to the series, although the final season may be split into two halves. While AMC is a cable network and doesn’t have the cash of network TV or the premium channels, I think this is money well spent. I’m slightly biased because I think Breaking Bad is the best show on TV right now.
But the drama isn’t over yet. Vince Gilligan doesn’t have a contract beyond this season so he’ll be renegotiating his contract with Sony. The cast can renegotiate their contracts as well. Click here for what star Bryan Cranston had to say about next season of the show and beyond.
Even though Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man only recently completed filming, Sony has already gotten a jump on the sequel as they’ve dated The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for a May 2nd, 2014 release. While this seems a bit ridiculous, it makes sense. Screenwriter James Vanderbilt wrote Webb’s reboot, and this past March he was hired to pen a script for the sequel. Apparently Sony liked what they saw (in both Webb’s film and Vanderbilt’s sequel script), as they’ve gone ahead and dated the follow-up. Hit the jump for my thoughts on this move, including the studio’s plans for an inevitable trilogy.
Earlier this week, a story appeared in the Boston Globe claiming that theaters were knowingly ripping off patrons by dimming the digital projection of 2D films due to laze. Ty Burr, the author of the piece, claimed that he had been to multiple theaters in the Boston area where the projection quality was greatly diminished. Burr spoke to a professional projectionist who claimed that the fault lay with Sony’s new 4K digital projectors, specifically that the 3D lens was left on the projector during 2D showings, thereby greatly dimming the 2D image.
Well now Sony has issued a detailed rebuttal in response to Burr’s article. Chiefly among their arguments is that Sony projectors do not rapidly alternate between two images, RealD filters (the 3D lens) only reduce the amount of light by 20%, changing the lens only takes about 20 minutes, and if the lens hasn’t been changed it’s still capable of playing 2D content at 14fl, which is well within the recommended range. Hit the jump for more, including Sony’s full press release.
When it comes to prestige pictures, producer Scott Rudin is a heavy-hitter. His credits include No Country for Old Men, The Royal Tenenbaums, and last year’s Best Picture nominees The Social Network and True Grit. Now he’s optioned an intriguing New York Magazine article, “The Terrorist Search Engine” about Evan Kohlmann, who was once dubbed by an FBI agent “The Doogie Howser of Terrorism”. Kohlmann, who is a government expert witness in terrorism cases due to his extensive study of jihad particularly in terms of how it relates to the Internet, has become a controversial figure because testifying has become his primary source of income.
Vulture reports that Rudin has taken the project to Sony’s Columbia Pictures and that the film is being set up as a starring vehicle for Jesse Eisenberg. However, Eisenberg is waiting to see a script before making a commitment.
In keeping with Hollywood’s tradition of fixating on one subject of interest for multiple competing projects, Harry Houdini seems to be the next flavor of the week. Sony is making moves on its long-gestating Houdini project with Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) in talks to direct the film. Variety reports that Jimmy Miller (The Other Guys) will produce. The studio is looking to revamp the story while maintaining its period setting.
DreamWorks recently acquired the rights to Michael Straczynski’s Voices from the Dead, which pits Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle as detectives solving mysteries in 1920’s New York. Additionally, last month Summit tapped Noah Oppenheim to adapt William Kalush’s book The Secret Life of Houdini into a feature film. That flick portrays Houdini as a superhero. Which of these projects, if any, will get off the ground first? I guess the race is on.