Screen Talk: Comic potential

 

The comic industry's Eisner Awards may not be globally renowned, but Hollywood and beyond certainly regards winners as having big-screen potential. But it came down to a British-based production banner, Studio Eight, to option the film rights to I Killed Adolf Hitler, a graphic novel by Norwegian comic artist Jason (aka John Arne Sæterøy). The novel's publisher, Fantagraphics, has hired screenwriter D C Walker of Up Country Productions to adapt the 2007 Eisner Award winner. The story follows the adventures of a hitman who encounters complications after travelling back in time to 1938 to assassinate Hitler.

 

Meryl the matriarch

Good news for theatregoers hoping to see a film adaptation of Tracy Letts' play August: Osage County. While talk of an adaptation has long been mooted, The Weinstein Co. has attached Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep to the project, which will be directed by John Wells (The Company Men). The adaptation has been pencilled in to begin production this autumn. The play follows the women of a family whose lives have splintered in many directions, until a crisis brings them back to their childhood home and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Streep is being lined up to play the pill-popping matriarch, while Roberts will portray her daughter. Deals and schedules have taken some time to work out for the backers.

 

Lionsgate to China

The Canadian mini-major Lionsgate has secured one of the most widespread deals in China for its movie titles via video, on demand and pay-per-view. And the Hollywood industry will be desperate to find out just how well the Chinese paying public take to offerings of movies including Hotel Rwanda, Dirty Dancing, The Blair Witch Project and the Saw franchise via the service, named YOU On Demand. A very different sort of film executive is launching the service. YOU On Demand chairman and CEO, Shane McMahon, is a former professional wrestler and executive at World Wrestling Entertainment. Lionsgate is using YOU On Demand as a middleman to sell its movies in China and to more easily penetrate China's tightly controlled media market. Warner Bros. last year signed an earlier deal with YOU On Demand to offer films in China on similar platforms.

 

Seventh heaven

Russian director Sergei Bodrov is speeding towards a March start-of-shoot date this year for his adventure picture The Seventh Son. Starring Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges, the film is being targeted for a February 2013 release by Warner Bros. Pictures. The family fantasy movie portrays the seventh son of a seventh son learning how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts in the 1700s. A boggart, for the uninitiated, is a malevolent household fairy. The ensemble cast includes Ben Barnes, Kit Harington and Alicia Vikander. Bodrov's film is based on Joseph Delaney's young-adult book series; Matt Greenberg is writing the script.

 

Heavyweight battle

Film-maker Michael Moore has settled his multimillion dollar legal battle with Harvey and Bob Weinstein over profits from the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. The film grossed $222m worldwide. But, as is common in the movie industry, the settlement terms were not disclosed. Until May this year that is. So there will be queues outside the courthouse to find out just what happened after Moore sued the Weinsteins last February, claiming that the brothers and an affiliated entity called Fellowship Adventure Group agreed to split profits from the film 50/50, but then diverted at least $2.7m in profits from the documentary to avoid paying him. At the time, Weinstein lawyer Bert Fields dismissed Moore's claims.

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