I see that The Hollywood Reporter is trumpeting an “exclusive” on the deal right now, but if you consider all Deadline has written on this sales effort–including that Disney was close to a deal–that’s like racing to the top of what you think is an uncharted hilltop, glimpsing my crumpled Bud Light empties scattered about, and then planting your flag anyway. Nice try!
Disney closed its deal to acquire Oblivion, the Radical Publishing graphic novel that will be turned into a directing vehicle for Tron:Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski. Deadline reported on Monday that Disney had the inside track and an exclusive negotiating window after four studios bid on the property following last week’s pitch effort. The other studios in the running were Paramount, Fox’s Chernin Entertainment and Universal.
I’m told that Disney paid mid-six figures in option money against a seven-figure purchase price. There is aggressive progress to production language in the deal, but the most important thing for Disney is that it anchors Kosinski as a cornerstone director. The studio must like what it has in a Tron:Legacy sequel that has to be viewed as risky since it’s a followup to a 1982 film that has a cult following but hardly put up Star Wars grosses. I’m told the reason the deal didn’t close sooner is that Disney also sweetened deal terms for Kosinski on a potential Tron: Legacy sequel. Oblivion has to be scripted, and so Kosinski could next direct that sequel, or a remake of the 1979 Disney science fiction film The Black Hole. Disney production president Sean Bailey was producer of both Tron:Legacy and The Black Hole before moving to the executive suites, so even though other studios bid up the price because they wanted a shot at a talented young director, it was considered likely that Disney would outbid rivals and keep Kosinski in the fold.
Oblivion hit the marketplace with Kosinski and Radical chief Barry Levine pitching right after the filmmaker returned from a Comic-Con presentation of Tron: Legacy, marking the third and final time that film will be vamped for the geek crowd there. It’s a futuristic science fiction love story taking place in an apocalyptic future where most of the population lives in clouds above an earth surface which has been rendered for the most part uninhabitable. An earthbound soldier–stuck there repairing drones that patrol and blast a savage alien life form–encounters a beautiful woman who crashed in a craft and they have an experience that forces him to question his world view. Kosinski thought up the concept three years ago before he began Tron: Legacy. His reps decided that turning it into a graphic novel would set the table for a movie deal once Kosinski was finished with the film.
The deal was made by Kosinski’s Verve reps and Michael Sugar and Bard Dorros at Anonymous Content. CAA repped Radical. Kosinski will produce with Radical’s Levine. David Fincher, who has been a mentor of Kosinski since his commercial days, is executive producer with Dave Morrison and Jesse Berger.