UPDATE: I’m told that the number of bidders has grown from 15 to 18 for Don’t Worry Darling, the genre script that Olivia Wilde will direct and star in. Deadline revealed the film this morning. I didn’t recall a movie script auction with that many outlets who could write a check to cover an 8-figure budget around $20M, with a wide release commitment; but the studios seem to be all in, as well as streamers like Netflix and monied production companies from Legendary to 101 Studios, FilmNation, MGM, Village Roadshow Pictures, Apple and Universal-based Blumhouse. The film is a psychological thriller about a 1950s housewife whose reality begins to crack, revealing a disturbing truth underneath. Buyers said the fresh high concept plot coupled by a hot female director who made a well respected first film that wasn’t a blockbuster but showed promise, following with a second effort that carries a reasonable and manageable budget, has put this in rarified terrain of such hotly contested specs from Arrival, 355 and most recently the Chris Hemsworth-Tiffany Haddish comedy Down Under Cover which sold for a premium to Paramount at Cannes. Sources said the offers are rising and include a generous first dollar gross corridor for Wilde, and include the budget she needs to execute her vision. Even though she’s away shooting the Clint Eastwood film Richard Jewell, Wilde supplied a strong director statement and other materials that conveyed her vision to buyers and how the rewrite by Kate Silberman to the Shane and Carey Van Dyke script would make it a strong fit for the director. She’s expected to come to town Friday to meet the finalists in the bidding, with a decision to be made by early next week the latest.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 10:24 AM PST: Studios are absolutely salivating over Don’t Worry Darling, a psychological thriller spec for the Time’s Up era. Olivia Wilde, coming off her critically acclaimed directorial debut Booksmart, will direct and star in the film. I’ve heard that between studios and streamers, there are 15 offers on the table for a movie that will happen very quickly. The auction should close by the weekend.
The script is by Shane and Carey Van Dyke, who most recently wrote The Silence. The plan is for Wilde’s Booksmart collaborator Katie Silberman to do the rewrite. Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee and Miri Yoon will produce the film with Wilde and Silberman. Catherine Hardwicke is exec producer.
This broadens out Wilde into the genre game. She and Silberman were just at the center of a six-studio bidding battle for an untitled holiday comedy pitch that was won by Universal. All this comes off Booksmart establishing itself as the best reviewed comedy of the summer, and could factor in awards season.
Wilde, who’s currently shooting the Clint Eastwood-directed Richard Jewell, is represented by CAA, Untitled Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham LLP; Silberman is repped by MXN Entertainment and Myman Greenspan; the Van Dykes are with Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment and the Nord Group; Lee is repped by Vertigo Entertainment and Rick Genow at Stone, Genow, Smelkinson, Binder & Christopher.
Stay tuned on this one.