EXCLUSIVE: Leave it to the franchise featuring the coolest private eye to come up with an inventive way of potentially changing the model for how certain urban-themed movie get financed and distributed. Sources say that New Line and Netflix are nearly closed on the untitled Shaft reboot. Netflix will pay more than half the film’s high $30 million budget, in exchange for international rights and the ability to put the film on its streaming outside the U.S. two weeks after New Line releases theatrically in the United States. The film will begin production in December.
New Line and Netflix were not commenting, but sources said the film will follow a traditional domestic roll out from theatrical to SVOD and DVD through the Warner Bros machine. That ought to spare the film from becoming an issue for theater chains that try to make the film wait 90 days to exploit ancillary markets. But the acceleration of availability to ancillary overseas is a major wrinkle in the back and forth as film companies try to shrink theatrical windows.
The deal, which has been in the works for the past several weeks, can be a useful template for makers of urban-themed or genre fare that normally does most of its theatrical business in the United States. What the deal does in particular for the untitled movie is, it gives director Tim Story more money to make the film than he otherwise would have gotten from New Line.
For Netflix, the deal will give its international membership a film that is still hot in the U.S. While there are exceptions, urban themed films turn the bulk of profit in the U.S. The recent summer sleeper, the $19 million Girls Trip, grossed a robust $115 million domestic, and has generated an extra $20 million offshore. This despite the fact that many movies rely on overseas for 75% of their global box office gross.
The Shaft reboot has a script by black-ish creator Kenya Barris, and will star Samuel L. Jackson in the role of John Shaft, who in 2000 played the nephew of the New York City private eye first seen in the Gordon Parks-directed 1971 action classic. Independence Day: Resurgence and Staz’ Survivor’s Remorse star Jessie T. Usher is set to play Shaft’s son, this after a long search to fill a potential star making role. He will play a young cyber expert FBI agent who, despite being estranged from his father, is forced to work with him on a case. It becomes a collision between old school and new school. Richard Roundtree is also expected to reprise his iconic role, as he did in the John Singleton-directed 2000 film.
The Shaft reboot is produced by Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and Barris.
CAA and MGMT Entertainment rep Usher; Story is repped by UTA and Barris by CAA and Principato-Young. Jackson is ICM Partners and Anonymous Content and Stone Manners Salsners Agency and Patrick McMinn Management rep Roundtree.