EXCLUSIVE: Sources tell me that international on Quentin Tarantino’s new Spaghetti Western Django Unchained is going to Sony to co-finance production later this year and distribute sometime in 2012. This after the filmmakers met with every major studio except Warner Bros. Of course, The Weinstein Company is taking domestic. But the surprise is that Universal International didn’t have the inside track since it co-financed and took overseas on Tarantino’s last film, Inglourious Basterds, in a very successful pairing ($201M international for a global cume of $321M). Actually, Universal really wanted Quentin’s latest and tried to really step up. There was a big meeting this past Friday between Universal International and Quentin where the foreign guys went to extraordinary lengths to pull out all the stops. Employees wore T-shirts emblazoned with the languages of all the managing directors of the territories in town. And a bag of handmade scalps was presented to Tarantino — a reference to the “100 Nazi scalps” from Inglourious Basterds to remind Quentin how well the studio did for that movie last time around. Instead, Django Unchained went to Sony because of its existing relationship with Will Smith, whom Quentin desperately wants to star in the film. “Having Will involved is the key. That’s what the filmmakers want, and they think the best chance of making it happen is at his home studio,” an insider tells me.
UPDATE: Right now, Will is still pondering his role as a slave in the script, which I just read and would be a very risky project for the actor, who’s known for carefully controlling his professional persona. Other top-flight casting will start immediately. The film is a take-off on the Sergio Leone/Eastwood “Man With No Name” films. According to the script, it’s not a Spaghetti Western remake or reboot but a brand new story with a similar character and similar stylized violence from those 1960s films. Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction producer Stacey Sher will produce with Pilar Savone and Harvey Weinstein. Getting the WME-repped Tarantino back behind the camera is another boost for the rebounding TWC.