EXCLUSIVE: A heated auction has ended with New Line acquiring The House, a comic script by Brendan O’Brien and Andrew J. Cohen, the team best known for the hit Neighbors. Cohen will direct the film and Will Ferrell will star. This is much bigger than the average spec script deal, because the title reflects what New Line is betting. Essentially, New Line committed to make this film with a low $40 million budget, and they are looking at an August start date and a summer 2016 release.
Good Universe, which produced Neighbors, will produce with Ferrell and his Gary Sanchez cohort Adam McKay and Jessica Elbaum and Chris Henchy will executive produce. They are adept at putting movies like this, getting studios to pony up and then delivering comic hits, so between that track record and that this was a fully realized concept like their script for Neighbors (the $18 million comedy grossed $268 million), this is a smart bet.
Ferrell plays a guy, who, with his wife, blows their daughter’s college fund. Desperate for cash, they team with some neighbors to open an illegal casino in the suburbs. New Line’s Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener, Michael Disco and Sam Brown were all over this one. It was particularly poignant to production chief Brener, who may or may not have had a black jack table going in his dorm room in college. CAA and Deb Klein handled the auction, which began with the writers pitching the concept to studios and leaving behind a script.