Screen Talk: Unkind cuts

 

Hollywood is mulling the impact of a small yet impactful number of job losses recently felt at DreamWorks, Steven Spielberg's studio.

It axed 10 employee roles, which, unless you are one of the individuals let go, doesn't seem too bad. But the studio only has 80 staff in total and the majority of those pink-slipped come from the physical production department – those that make the movies. And long-time physical production executive Steve Molen, who started at Amblin and has American Beauty, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse and The Help on his previous duty roster, was among the departures. There's talk of streamlining and efficiency but the immediate and obvious effect is DreamWorks, which has a deal for film production with India's Reliance Entertainment, will be making fewer films. The company also will cut positions in its legal, insurance and IT departments.

Miller's tale

Former Prison Break star Wentworth Miller's attempts to write tasty roles while recasting himself as a screenwriter is gaining momentum. Miller's latest original screenplay, The Disappointments Room, has attracted a producing team that includes the muscle of Oscar winner Nicolas Chartier. Chartier was famously banned from attending the Academy Awards when his film The Hurt Locker won best picture after he contacted several voting members so they would vote for his movie instead of Avatar. Chartier is one of the producers bringing Miller's latest script to the screen. It tells the tale of a family that moves into a mysterious old house in the country that has a dark past. Miller's writing move is already successful and he has major-league representation for his efforts with ICM. His first writer's stab, Stoker, directed by Chan-wook Park, is in post-production and includes turns from Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska and Dermot Mulroney. It's another family tale that details the story of a young woman mourning the loss of her father when a mysterious uncle shows up.

A safe bet

Gambling as a subject matter for film-makers has long fascinated Hollywood and there are no signs of the stakes changing. Brad Furman is throwing in his hand to direct Runner, Runner, a thriller which takes place amid the world of online gambling. Written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who teamed on high-stakes backroom poker drama Rounders in 1998, Runner, Runner has secured the acting chops of Justin Timberlake and is hoping Ben Affleck will co-star. A certain Mr Leonardo DiCaprio is among the script's backers via his production banner Appian Way.

Ark life

A fresh take on the biblical tale of Noah and his ark has its launch date set for March 2014. Forward planning is clearly essential for such a big project to sail on to global cinema screens for studio backer Paramount Pictures. It will star Russell Crowe and be directed by Darren Aronofsky. John Logan, who recently wrote Hugo and whose writing résumé boasts Gladiator, starring Crowe in an Oscar-winning turn, is doing rewrites on the screenplay by Aronofsky and Ari Handel.

Get Carter

Plans to scare up audiences for a horror film about a young girl who returns to her father's Louisiana home after an accident robs her of the use of her legs only to find herself confronting an enraged ghost are ramping up. Joelle Carter, a lead on FX's Justified, has joined the cast of Jessabelle, alongside Sarah Snook and Mark Webber. It is being directed by Kevin Greutert, director of Saw 3D and Saw VI and is written by Robert Ben Garant, the writer on comedies Night at the Museum and The Pacifier. Carter will play Snook's mother in the scary movie backed by Lionsgate, which is shooting now in North Carolina.

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