EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is in, and Sony Pictures and New Regency are out of The Juliet, an adaptation of the Alfred Bester short story that was developed by Charles Roven’s Atlas Entertainment. The film has a script by Henry Bean that is being rewritten by Paul Haggis, and Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders is attached to direct. At one point it looked like Sony would make it this spring. Atlas’s Roven and Alex Gartner are producing with Frank Beddor of Automatic Pictures.
It makes me wonder, what is going on in Hollywood? I have been around long enough that I actually broke the story of when Warner Bros, clashing with John Hughes over $2 million in budget, allowed Fox to grab Home Alone and turn the $18 million film into a $477 million worldwide gross blockbuster. After that, studios used to never let projects go for fear of being embarrassed, a possibility that was reinforced when Paramount inexplicably let the option lapse on the Twilight Saga, the billion-dollar franchise that built Summit Entertainment. Studios used to keep everything, or heap on overhead costs that made them prohibitively expensive, or attach first-dollar-gross obligations, like the 5 percent that Harvey Weinstein got on The Lord Of The Rings and is trying to enforce on The Hobbit.
Things have changed and projects move more freely now. Studios have cut development, need product and don’t embarrass as easily as they once did. It seemed to start with Slumdog Millionaire, when Fox Searchlight was allowed to step in and save that Best Picture winner from a direct-to-video release from Warner Bros. Now, it has become just part of studios mixing and matching to build slates. If New Line isn’t going to make Ride Along, why not recoup development costs and let it go, even if Universal turned it into a hit and is already making the sequel? And if Universal doesn’t feel it after Angelina Jolie drops out of Gravity, why not let Warner Bros take the shot on Alfonso Cuaron’s passion project that grosses nearly $800 million? Another Ice Cube project, Straight Outta Compton, has moved from New Line development hell to a May start at Universal, which separately imported the Tom Cruise-starrer Oblivion after Disney discarded it. Now, it’s more about filling slots and being cost conscious as much as anything. I am sure a lot of artists are just grateful their movies have a chance to get made.
The Juliet is set in a near-futuristic science fiction landscape. This gives Sanders two projects at Warner Bros, as he is also attached to the studio’s film about Napoleon Bonaparte. He’s separately attached to direct Ghost In The Shell at DreamWorks and he’s got 90 Church at Universal. CAA and Independent Talent rep Sanders.