EXCLUSIVE: Project X has got tongues wagging in Hollywood. Warner Bros, Todd Phillips and Joel Silver are mobilizing a raunchy comedy with a $12 million budget, a hard R-rating, under that working title. British video/commercials director Nima Nourizadeh will be making his feature directing debut, and Phillips will be the producer and creative godfather.
There are several unusual facets to this film. First, when was the last time Warner Bros spent as low as $12 million on a movie? Second, the real title and the concept are being kept secret–all I can get is that it’s an outrageous high concept–and the filmmakers won’t be distributing full scripts, only watermarked pages to prospective college-aged cast. But the most intriguing part is that the filmmakers are intent that every actor cast in the film will be losing their screen virginity on the project.
While Phillips gave star-making turns to Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms in The Hangover, that trio would have been vastly overqualified –and too old–to be considered for roles in Project X. So, if you were just in contention to be Captain America or Spider-Man–Hitfix today reports that Logan Lerman is going to get the latter role–you’re probably too well known to be in this picture. Poised for a breakthrough after your TV series goes on hiatus? Fuggedaboudit. Got a couple of national TV commercials on your reel? You might be overexposed. Warners and the filmmakers want to line the picture with complete unknowns and will conduct a major national talent search. No wonder Warner Bros and Phillips are getting away with making a studio comedy at such a low price-tag. If this works and becomes a trend, watch out, star salaries.
Project X will begin production June 14 in Los Angeles, right after Phillips completes post-production on the Robert Downey-Zach Galifianakis comedy Due Date and before he begins pre-production on The Hangover 2. Phillips intends to be a hands-on producing presence during the shoot. Silver will be executive producer along with Scott Budnick–who runs Phillips’ Green Hat Films banner– and Silver Pictures executives Andrew Rona, Alex Heineman and Steve Richards. The screenplay was written by Matt Drake from treatment by Michael Bacall. The film gives Phillips the opportunity to expand the raucous R-rated comedy brand he has been building at Warners, beyond pictures he directs. The studio has set Due Date for November 4 release and The Hangover 2 for Memorial Day weekend 2011, but conversations are just beginning on where Project X will fit into the studio’s release calendar.
Nourizadeh got the job over several up and coming directors because of his reel and his take on the material. Like Phillips, he’s repped by CAA, with Partizan repping his commercials and video work. Below, you can check out his new Adidas spot, Street Corner, in which Nourizadeh managed to pack about 35 celebs who appeared to have been part of a big party, even though most never saw the other celebs who appear in Where’s Waldo-like moments. How many can you spot?