Sony Buys Action-Comedy Spec From Newbie Writers

Yesterday, we reported that development executive Christopher Cosmos sold his first spec. Today, Deadline writes that a duo of first-time screenwriters with industry jobs sold their spec El Tigre to Sony, further proof that working in Hollywood is a good way to start as a filmmaker.

Writer Aaron Buchsbaum works for "Night at the Museum" director

Aaron Buchsbaum, who works for director Shawn Levy (The Night at the Museum and about a hundred other family comedies), and Teddy Riley, who works for Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, wrote the action comedy about a family vacation that takes a turn for the zany when the dad is mistaken for a Mexican drug lord.

Writer Teddy Riley works for Justin Bieber's manager

It sounds like a pretty high concept script, and we’d wager that Buchsbaum’s experience with Levy lends him an understanding of the material that most first time writers don’t have. But that remains to be seen if and when the movie is released.

Would you want to see this in theaters? What’s your favorite zany family vacation movie?

– Cindy Kaplan

Hot Trailer: ‘This is 40’

The best part of Knocked Up was the Paul Rudd/Leslie Mann couple (or the scene where Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen go to Vegas and Rudd finds all the different chairs, but again, that’s a Rudd/Mann relationship scene in its essence). Now, Judd Apatow returns with a semi-sequel to the comedy centering on the couple. This is 40 comes out on Christmas, and that is not soon enough. The trailer is laugh out loud funny — actual laugh out loud, not that bogus LOL stuff people invoke when they mean “just a little amusing” — and we totally want more. Is there any way we can do Christmas in July? Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think.

 

– Cindy Kaplan

‘Harry Potter’ Screenwriter to Take on ‘The Jungle Book’

The man behind the Harry Potter movies is moving from J.K. Rowling to Rudyard Kipling.

Variety’s Jeff Sneider is reporting that Steve Kloves, who wrote all eight Harry Potter movies, is in talks with Warner Bros. to write and direct a new, live-action version of The Jungle Book.

Disney's 1967 animated version of "The Jungle Book" grossed nearly $206 million

Kloves clearly knows how to adapt previously written stuff. In addition to the Harry Potter movies, he wrote The Amazing Spider-Man for Sony and has worked on the English-language adaptation of Akira.

He directed the 1989 The Fabulous Baker Boys.

Disney’s 1967 animated version of The Jungle Book grossed nearly $206 million worldwide.

– Joshua L. Weinstein

Universal Pictures, Working Title Films Extend Production Deal Through 2015

Universal Pictures and Contraband, Les Miserables, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spyproducer Working Title Films have extended their production deal through 2015, the companies announced Friday.

The production deal was scheduled to expire in 2013.

There are a few differences between the new deal and the old. The biggest change is that it will be a first-look deal, rather than an exclusive arrangement.

Here’s Universal’s announcement:

NEWS RELEASE

UNIVERSAL PICTURES AND WORKING TITLE FILMS EXTEND PRODUCTION DEAL THROUGH 2015

Pact Continues Universal’s Long-Standing Relationship with Premiere International Production Company 

LOS ANGELES, CA, April 27, 2012—Universal Pictures and Working Title Films today announced they will extend their production agreement through 2015. During Universal and Working Title’s long run together, the two companies have produced films that have grossed more than 4.25 billion dollars at the worldwide box office. Universal Chairman, Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman, Donna Langley made the announcement alongside Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.

“Working Title has been an invaluable partner for Universal with our two companies enjoying tremendous success on films that have delighted audiences all over the world,” said Fogelson and Langley. “Tim and Eric are true leaders in the global production space which gives us more of an opportunity to be in business with some of the best international talent and we’re thrilled to be extending our partnership.”

“We are delighted to be continuing our relationship with our friends at Universal,” said Bevan and Fellner. “It has been a long and fruitful relationship and we are very much looking forward to more successes over the coming years.”

The new deal, will replace the deal set to expire in 2013 and will be structured to bring it in line with Universal’s other current production agreements. It will also be a first-look deal, rather than an exclusive arrangement.

Universal and Working title have garnered critical acclaim with Academy Award®-nominated/winning films such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Billy Elliot, Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Frost/Nixon, Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Fargo. Working Title’s vast library includes Burn After Reading, Notting Hill, O Brother Where Art Thou, About a Boy, Love Actually, The Interpreter, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, as well as the Nanny McPhee, Johnny English and the Bridget Jones franchises. Most recently, they released the 2012 action-thriller, Contraband.

The critically acclaimed and award winning production company whose production deal began with Universal in 1999, recently commenced shooting of Tom Hooper’s motion-picture adaptation of the beloved global stage sensation, Les Misérables starring Hugh Jackman and Oscar® winner Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Sasha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried and Helena Bonham Carter. The film is also being produced by Cameron MacKintosh. Working Title is also in production on Rush, the biography of Formula 1 champions Niki Lauda and James Hunt, with Ron Howard directing a script by Peter Morgan. Working Title will produce this film alongside Imagine Entertainment and Revolution. They also recently commenced production on John Crowley’s Closed, starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall.

Working Title will release Anna Karenina directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Aaron Johnson through Focus Features domestically and UPI internationally in the autumn of 2012.

About Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.

About Working Title

Working Title Films, co-chaired by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner since 1992, is Europe’s leading film production company, making movies that defy boundaries as well as demographics. Founded in 1983, Working Title has produced 100 films that have grossed more than $5 billion worldwide. Its films have won 6 Academy Awards, 26 BAFTA Awards, and prestigious prizes at the Cannes and Berlin International Film Festivals.

– Joshua L. Weinstein

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ Sequel Looking to David Koepp to Write

Snow White and the Huntsman hasn’t even hit theaters yet (June 1 is soon though), and Universal already is pushing forward with a sequel. The studio, according to Deadline’s Mike Fleming, is in discussions with David Koepp to write the the follow-up to the Kristen Stewart epic adaptation of the classic fairy tale.

Koepp’s a pretty big name in the writing world. With movies like Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, and War of the Worlds under his belt, Koepp is a natural choice for an action epic, if the studio has faith in the franchise. So good news, KStew fans: SWATH is poised for success. Plus, the project is a top priority for the studio, as they’re hoping to get director Rupert Sanders to return to shoot the sequel immediately.

– Cindy Kaplan

Necropia and Angryfilms Option Writer Adam Robitel’s ‘The Bloody Benders’

Necropia Entertainment — Guillermo del Toro’s company — and Angryfilms are optioning The Bloody Benders, a creepy spec script by the talented writer Adam Robitel.

Deadline’s Mike Fleming first reported the news.

del Toro and Angryfilms’ Susan Montford and Don Murphy have chosen a good one:

Adam Robitel

Robitel is an up-and-coming writer who is especially adept with dark material. And The Bloody Benders counts as dark: It’s based on the true story of John and Kate Bender and their children — ready for this? — also John and Kate Bender.

That’s just weird. It gets creepy. The Benders were serial killers who, from 1871 to 1873, owned a general store and inn in Kansas. The older Benders spoke very little English, and Kate Sr. was renowned for her meanness.

Kate the younger was renowned for … something else. She was a psychic, a free-love advocate and a self-proclaimed healer.

Oh yeah, they all liked to kill guests of the inn by smacking them on the skull with a hammer, then slitting their throats.

Keep an eye on Robitel, who has a pocketful of other scripts in the works.

– Joshua L. Weinstein

Christina Ricci Going Blue

Christina Ricci is about to go blue.

Christina Ricci wears Smurf blue -- as a Pan Am flight attendant

The Sleepy Hollow and Monster star has joined the cast of the sequel to Sony’s 2011 hit The Smurfs, The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit is reporting.

Don’t expect Ricci to play some chumpy Smurfette. In the next Surfs go-round, she’s the evil Vexi.

Raja Gosnell directed last year’s Smurfs, and will be back for the sequel, to be released July 31, 2013. Much of the original cast is expected to return, as well.

Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, and Sofia Vergara starred in The Smurfs, which took in $564 million worldwide.

Ricci starred in ABC’s Pan Am, an attempt, along with NBC’s The Playboy Club, to exploit the ethusiasm for the 1960s that Mad Men created.

The show also gave Ricci a chance to dress all in blue. Like a Smurf.

– Joshua L. Weinstein