Amazon Wins $10 Million U.S. Rights Auction For ‘This Is Us’ Creator Dan Fogelman Film ‘Life Itself’
DEADLINE – EXCLUSIVE: In one of the year’s biggest acquisition deals, Amazon Studios has made a $10 million-plus deal for U.S. rights to Life, Itself, a drama directed and written by This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman. The completed film is a multi-generational love story, weaving together a number of characters whose lives intersect over the course of decades from the streets of New York to the Spanish countryside and back. Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Olivia Cooke, Laia Costa, Mandy Patinkin, Sergio Peris-Mencheta and Alex Monner star. Pic’s produced by Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, FilmNation Entertainment’s Aaron Ryder, and Fogelman.
Amazon won the project over Paramount and Universal, and it was a big one for Amazon under Jason Ropell’s leadership. This project has been on the radar of distributors since the script topped the Black List before it began production, and again when FilmNation presented the package at Berlin at a time when This Is Us had established itself as the biggest breakout hit network series in years. But the auction — which came down to Paramount, Amazon Studios and Universal in the end — really commenced after distributors heard about a couple of “friends and family” screenings of the finished film. Studios — which had already read the script — began making sight-unseen proposals, and three finalists emerged and were then shown the finished film. The bidders made marketing presentations and how they would release the film in the Oscar corridor next year. This process had been going on for the past 10 days.
The film will likely be unveiled next fall in a prestige festival like Toronto or Telluride, and it will broaden from there. Fogelman, who wrote the animated films Cars, Tangled and Bolt and then moved into live action with scripts Stupid, Crazy, Love, The Guilt Trip and Last Vegas, made his directorial debut on a small film, the Al Pacino-starrer Danny Collins. Life Itself, one-third of which takes place in Spain with Spanish-language dialogue and subtitles, fuses the complex emotional resonance of This Is Us in a feature format that puts Fogelman in a position to mine turf of James L. Brooks. The film liberally uses the music of Bob Dylan, specifically from his album Time Out Of Mind.
This is the third major film that FilmNation fully financed, which became a huge sale, after Arrival and The Big Sick.
Endeavor Content brokered the U.S. deal with FilmNation, latter of which is the international sales agent. Fogelman is repped by WME, Management 360 and attorney Bruce Gellman of Hansen Jacobson.
Film Productions > 2015: The Lazarus Effect > Production Stills
‘Kill List’ and ‘Sightseers’ writer-director Ben Wheatley has selected the action thriller ‘Free Fire’ for his next feature, with production scheduled for spring 2015.
Featuring a cast that includes tar Luke Evans (‘Dracula Untold,’ ‘The Hobbit’), Cillian Murphy (‘Inception,’ ‘Peaky Blinders’), Armie Hammer (‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,’ ‘The Social Network’), Olivia Wilde (‘Rush,’ ‘Her’) and Wheatley’s regular collaborator Michael Smiley (‘Kill List,’ ‘A Field in England’), the actioner revolves around an arms deal which goes spectacularly wrong. Set in Boston in 1978, the film sees Wilde playing a woman who has brokered a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen (played by Murphy and Smiley) and a gang led by Evans and Hammer who are selling them a stash of guns. But when shots are fired in the handover, a heart-stopping game of survival ensues.
“The idea for ‘Free Fire’ came from my love of hard-boiled crime movies; from ‘The Asphalt Jungle,’ ‘The Big Sleep,’ ‘The Killing’ and ‘The Big Combo’ through ‘The Driver,’ ‘Le Samourai’ and ‘The French Connection,’ to the modern cycle of ‘Goodfellas,’ ‘Casino,’ ‘Hard Boiled’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ said Wheatley in a statement.
“Free Fire will take you and stick you in the middle of the action. I want the film to have the stylish, no nonsense feel that you get in Peckinpah’s The Getaway. It’s a modern ‘70s movie. Muscular, tough and spare.”
Wheatley is currently in post production on his latest effort, an adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s ‘High-Rise,’ which stars Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Luke Evans.
Gravitas Ventures has acquired all U.S. rights to Peter Glanz’s directorial debut “The Longest Week”, a comedy that stars Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde, Billy Crudup and Jenny Slate.
The film will be released theatrically and on VOD on September 5.
Glanz’s script is based on his short film “A Relationship in Four Days,” which played both Cannes and Sundance.
Bateman stars as Conrad Valmont, heir to a hotel fortune, who is cut off from his allowance following his parents abrupt divorce and tossed out into the unforgiving streets of the Upper West Side. Luckily, he is taken in by his old friend Dylan (Crudup), and returns the favor by immediately falling for Dylan’s girlfriend Beatrice (Wilde). As Conrad attempts to woo Beatrice while keeping both their relationship and his bank balance secret, Dylan tries to set him up with Jocelyn (Slate). Committed to the charade that he eventually finds difficult to maintain, Conrad quickly realizes his charm can only extend so far into debt.
“‘The Longest Week’ and the performances of Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde and Billy Crudup offer a refreshing new perspective on a timeless love triangle. With the film, Peter Glanz follows in the great tradition of Woody Allen, Whit Stillman and Wes Anderson in incisively and hilariously portraying the challenges of falling in and out of love in Manhattan” remarked Gravitas Ventures founder/CEO Nolan Gallagher.
“Upon hearing Gravitas Ventures strategy for the film, we realized immediately that they are at the cutting edge of independent film distribution and would do a fantastic job with this film,” said YRF Entertainment CEO Uday Chopra.
YRF Entertainment (“Grace of Monaco”) financed “The Longest Week” and produced in association with Armian Pictures, Atlantic Pictures, and Far Hills. The film was produced by Uday Chopra and Neda Armian, and executive produced by Jonathan Reiman, Chris Marsh, Stone Douglass and Taylor Materne executive produced.