QED International has laid off five employees (which includes support staff and a junior lawyer) three weeks after the disastrous opening of Sabotage, directed by David Ayer and led by aging action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bloody pic flopped and is hanging on by its fingernails in the Box office Top 20 — it’s No. 18 in its third weekend — having grossed a mere $10M. John Hegeman, president of worldwide marketing, is still on board as he helps prepare the debut of the next Ayer-directed film, Fury, which has some star power in Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and audience favorite Michael Pena. QED slapped down $1M to buy the WWII spec from Ayer over a year ago; it will bow in November. One insider said that QED is reallocating resources for development spending. To that point, today QED purchased Yellowstone Falls, a 52-page spec script by Dan Kunka, winning what was said to be a heated bidding war. The film, which will be produced by Kevin Misher and QED President Bill Block, is about a mother wolf who must battle to save her cubs after being separated from her mate following an apocalyptic event. The film will have nearly no dialogue and few actors. Sounds a little like Disneynature’s Bears — with mutated humans thrown in.
QED’s Block confirmed the layoffs but had no comment. The company now is as lean as it was before Media Content Capital made an eight-figure investment and became a prime shareholder in 2012. That investment allowed QED to pay minimum guarantees to acquire offshore rights to completed films. QED really needs Fury to connect with audiences this November. Brad Pitt battling Nazis? Could work if its as action-packed as Lone Survivor. Coming out this weekend in limited release is QED’s Fading Gigolo, starring Woody Allen, John Turturro — who also directed — Vanessa Paradis, Sharon Stone and Liev Schreiber. Tough that five people were let go. Rough times.