EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res and Bron Studios have acquired the rights to David Cronenberg’s classic 1981 sci-fi thriller feature Scanners to develop as a TV series. Ellenberg and Bron landed the rights in a bidding war, with multiple film and television studios, including Lionsgate, Paramount and Skydance, vying for the title.
Written and directed by Cronenberg, Scanners is about an underground network of people born with telekinetic powers living on the fringes of society that are hunted down by the forces that created them. Ellenberg and Bron plan to develop and package the TV series adaptation with a high-end filmmaker and showrunner before shopping it to premium services.
Ellenberg will executive produce alongside Bron’s Aaron L. Gilbert and Danielle Reardon, as well as Clark Peterson (Monster) and Pierre David, who was an executive producer on the original film. Also serving as executive producers are Rene Malo (Decline of the American Empire) and Fanny-Laure Malo, who represent the rights holder on the property, Canada’s Laurem Productions.
Scanners only recently became available. For about a decade, the rights were held by The Weinstein Co.’s Dimension Films which tried developing the title as a movie and then a TV series, with Rene Malo, Peterson and David attached as producers to both incarnations, none of which came to fruition.
Ellenberg also has the hot Untitled Morning Show Project in a bidding situation. Written by Jay Carson, it stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, who also executive produce alongside Ellenberg and Steve Kloves. Additionally, Ellenberg is developing with Lars Blomgren of Filmlance the event series Scenes from a Marriage, based on Ingmar Bergman’s classic look at a marriage in crisis, with Hagai Levi attached to executive produce, showrun and direct. Playwright Amy Herzog will co-write and executive produce.
On the feature side, Ellenberg is producing the character-based sci-fi drama Untitled Karl Gajdusek Project for 20th Century Fox.
Former HBO head of drama Ellenberg launched Media Res in June with the goal of producing distinctive premium, television and feature projects similar to some of the series he shepherded in their early stages at HBO, including Westworld, Big Little Lies, The Leftovers, True Detective and The Young Pope, nominated for a total of 41 Emmy Awards this year.
Bron is the producer and financier behind such films as Jason Reitman’s Tully (Focus), Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz at Dinner (Roadside), Denzel Washington’s Oscar nominated Fences (Paramount), and Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation (Fox Searchlight).
Negotiating the deal on behalf of Bron and Media Res were Bron’s David Davoli and Anjay Nagpal, while Wayne Alexander and WME represented the rights, Peterson and David.
Here is a trailer for the Scanners movie, which starred Jennifer O’Neill, Steven Lack, Michael Ironside, and Patrick McGoohan: