EXCLUSIVE: Days after a feverish auction wrapped up for Weapons, the town is still talking about the wake left in its path. The Dish hears that the deal for the Zach Cregger-directed horror film is remarkable in that this is only Cregger’s second film — after the highly profitable debut Barbarian — and it sold to New Line for an overall sum around $38 million, including the budget and Cregger getting $5 million to direct, and $10 million total when that sum is added to his fees for scripting and producing alongside Vertigo’s Roy Lee and Miri Yoon, and J.D. Lifshitz and Raphael Margules.
The bidding also included Universal, with Jordan Peele and his Monkeypaw to produce. While others circled it came down to those two studios. Sources said that that the Uni bid was about $7 million less than New Line. Peele, we hear, was ready to kick in part of his contractual back end. This is where it enters Rashomon territory with rumors racing in all kinds of directions. One version goes that Peele was pissed, but we’re also told that Peele was told that if he matched the New Line bid he would win the property but he and Universal were uneasy about the budget as a business proposition, and they walked away. New Line clearly felt otherwise, and its recent track record in genre grosses measured against budget has been as good or better than any studio in town.
A chorus of rumors have followed. Like Cregger, Peele is repped by CAA and was repped by Artists First. Cregger (a founder of the improv group The Whitest Kids U Know) and Peele both come out of the sketch comedy improv space.
In the wake of the auction, Peele parted ways this week with his longtime Artists First managers Joel Zadak and Peter Principato, latter of whom is also Cregger’s manager. They signed Peele when he was an improv comic on Mad TV, way before he became an A-list writer/director with Get Out and most recently Nope. Artists First certainly did their job, but sometimes these auctions can strain allegiances, making for an impossible situation. While the company helped its client Cregger make a life changing deal for an original idea that might propel him to a career like Peele has, it’s a blow to lose Peele.
Peele remains repped by CAA.
Peele has confirmed he is no longer repped by Artists First.
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