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Film Editor, New York
Senior Film and Media Reporter
Bleecker Street is in final negotiations to acquire U.S. rights to Gavin Hood’s drama “Eye in the Sky” starring Helen Mirren, Variety has learned.
The film about drone warfare, which premiered on Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival, drew interest from buyers including Fox Searchlight and The Orchard, and bidding climbed past $2 million. It’s the first sale at Toronto for Bleecker Street, the indie label started by Andrew Karpen last year, which has had box office success with “Danny Collins” and “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”
The deal for “Eye in the Sky” puts some momentum puts back into a limp Toronto market. Sellers have complained about buyers being overly skittish, as distributors are griping about the quality of finished projects that are available for purchase.
“Eye in the Sky” could not be more topical. It examines terrorists targeting drone missions at a time when the Obama administration’s reliance on these weapons of war has inspired controversy. The film co-stars Aaron Paul and Alan Rickman, and was produced by Entertainment One and Raindog Films.
“Much like “Dr. Strangelove,” the Stanley Kubrick classic it often recalls, this teasingly hard-to-label war story has more than a fair share of scenes that generate explosive laughter — until the laughter catches in your throat,” critic Joe Leydon wrote in a positive review for Variety.
Bleecker Street is at Toronto with “Trumbo,” the drama directed by Jay Roach starring Bryan Cranston (in a performance that’s generating Oscar buzz) as blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.
WME handled the deal.
The sci-fi spec Proxima, written by first-timer Chris Hager, was just picked up by David Lancaster’s Rumble Films (Whiplash) and will be produced in conjunction with Altitude Film Entertainment and Jim Wedaa. The sci-fi drama is about a married couple on a centuries-long mission across the universe.
Rumble Films’ head of development Stephanie Wilcox brought the film into the company after the writer was found by Wedaa. The writer is from Kansas City, MO, and he was just a guy with a dream of being a screenwriter who wrote a query letter to Wedaa. The producer thought it was a great idea and then pursued the project.
This is the second sci-fi project Rumble Films is involved with. The other under their shingle is Second Born, a story about microchip implants in the brain that are used to store one’s consciousness.
Will Clarke and Mike Runagall will exec produce Proxima. Clarke heads Altitude which will finance and handle sales and distribution in the UK. Runagall is the company’s managing director.
Rumble Films is in currently in production on the thriller Message from the King, starring Chadwick Boseman with Fabrice du Welz directing; they are producing with eOne and InkFactory. Of course, Lancaster was a producer on Damien Chazelle’s critically-acclaimed Whiplash (which won three Oscars this year, including for supporting actor J.K. Simmons) as well as Dan Gilroy’s critic fave Nightcrawlerwhich starred Jake Gylenhaal. (Whiplash was also produced by Michael Litvak, Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook).
Lancaster also just wrapped Eye in the Sky for eOne where he worked alongside producers Colin Firth and Ged Doherty from Raindog Films. Lancaster’s upcoming films include No Escape starring Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan and Lake Bell to be released by The Weinstein Company this coming September and Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, Lost River, which will be released by Warner Bros. next month. Bold Films was the production company behind Whiplash, Nightcrawler, No Escapeand Lost River.
Wedaa is currently producing the supernatural thriller The Boy for Lakeshore/STX, which will bow in February 2016 from director William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside). It stars The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan and is shooting in Vancouver.
Hager is repped by Abram Nalibotsky and Pamela Goldstein at Verve, and Wedaa at Parallax Talent Management.
South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook (“Oldboy”) will direct and develop the sci-fi thriller “Second Born” for David Lancaster’s Rumble Films.
Lancaster, former president of Bold Films, launched Rumble in July on the heels of producing Miles Teller’s “Whiplash” at Sony Classics and Jake Gyllenhaal’s crime thriller “Nightcrawler”at Open Road.
“Second Born,” based on an original screenplay by David Jagernauth, takes place in a futuristic world in which neural microchip implants are used to store one’s consciousness, leading to black market body-swapping.
Derby Street will finance development. Lancaster will produce with Stephanie Wilcox for Rumble alongside Wonjo Jeong, Park’s producing partner. Executive producers are James Gibb and Derby Street’s CEO Nicola Horlick, as well as Jon Shiffman for Rumble.
Rumble is producing the film with D alongside Wonjo Jeong, Park’s producing partner. Executive producers are James Gibb and Derby Street’s CEO Nicola Horlick, as well as Jon Shiffman for Rumble.
Next up for Rumble is the revenge thriller “Message from the King,” which the company will produce with eOne and InkFactory. Filming will begin early next year with Chadwick Boseman starring and Fabrice du Welz directing.
Lancaster recently wrapped production in South Africa for eOne on thriller “Eye in the Sky” with producers Colin Firth and Ged Doherty from Raindog Films. Starring Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman and Barkhad Abdi and directed by Gavin Hood, “Eye” is set in the world of remotely piloted “drone” warfare.
The “Second Born” deal was negotiated on behalf of Derby by Tifanie Jodeh at Entertainment Law partners, Adam Kaller on behalf of Park, and Debbie Von Arx and Jon Shiffman on behalf of Rumble.
Park is repped by WME and Industry Entertainment. Jagernauth is repped by Abbot Entertainment.
After eight years as co-president at Bold Films, David Lancaster has launched Rumble as a production-development-financing company.
Rumble is already in negotiations with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo to develop spy thriller “Tin Man” from a script by Seth Lochhead (“Hanna”). The “28 Weeks Later” director is developing “Tin Man” with producer Laura Bickford.
The move comes with Lancaster having a pair of Bold Films titles opening in the fall: Sundance Grand Jury prize winner “Whiplash” at Sony Classics and Jake Gyllenhaal’s crime thriller “Nightcrawler”at Open Road.
Lancaster has hired Jon Shiffman, formerly of Comerica Bank and Media Rights Capital, as the CFO and COO. Stephanie Wilcox, former director of development at Bold, has come on as VP of development and production.
Rumble’s slate is focused on auteur-driven film and TV projects with appeal to a global marketplace. Its first project is “Children of the Gun,” a dystopian parable written by Will Dunn and directed by Belgian filmmaker Fabrice du Welz, whose “Alleluia” screened at the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes and was picked up by Music Box for North American rights.
During Lancaster’s tenure at Bold, he oversaw Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” and Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut “Lost River” along with TV drama “The Black Box” for ABC and Syfy’s new series “Dominion,” based on Bold’s feature film “Legion.”
Lancaster’s been involved in over 35 movies including “night, Mother,” “A Love Song for Bobby Long,” “Bobby” and “Middle of Nowhere.” He produced ‘night, Mother” on Broadway and returned to Broadway this season with the musical production of “The Bridges of Madison County,” both with long-time colleague Marsha Norman.