EXCLUSIVE: Chad Stahelski, the former stuntman who debuted as co-director on John Wick and has subsequently helmed three Keanu Reeves hits with a fourth coming along with film and TV spinoffs, is ramping up 87eleven Entertainment, a new offshoot of the overall company 87eleven Action Design that he formed years back with his John Wick co-director David Leitch. To run the new production company, Stahelski has brought in longtime WME agent Jason Spitz, and Stahelski has berthed the production company to a first look film deal at Lionsgate. The deal was cemented by Joe Drake, Chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.
Spitz spent 24 years as an agent, joining Endeavor from ICM in 1996 and becoming the seventh dealmaker to join that fledgling percentery, long before it became WME. He had been a partner there and over the years repped such directors and writers as Aaron Sorkin, Chris Columbus, David Frankel, Kay Cannon, Sharon Horgan, Todd Field, Mark Bomback and Jeff Pinkner. Spitz left the agency a few months ago, to prepare for this move.
The goal will be to generate high octane fare in the action genre, and the hope will be to hatch something that comes out of nowhere at a modest budget and establishes itself as the stylized franchise that John Wick became. A simple premise of a retired hitman who seeks revenge when his dog is killed by the son of a crime kingpin, John Wick has seen three hit installments, with John Wick 4 coming, along with the female-driven spinoff Ballerina and the Lionsgate TV series The Continental. Stahelski directed all three of the films; the most recent, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum was a summer hit that grossed over $326 million worldwide. Jason Constantine, President of Acquisitions and co-productions, oversees the John Wick films.
Stahelski is separately developing at Lionsgate the film adaptation of Analog, the dystopian sci-fi comic, and a remake of Highlander, the 1986 cult classic that starred Christopher Lambert.
“Chad is the most talented and exciting action director working in our industry today,” said Lionsgate’s Drake. “He is an artist who paints with fight choreography, extraordinary stunts, exotic locations and saturated color palates, and each of his successive films shows his enormous skill as a director. We could not be more proud and elated to have him, Jason, and the 87eleven Entertainment team developing new projects together with Lionsgate.”
Said Stahelski: “Lionsgate has been one of my biggest earliest supporters. They have been the home for all three of the John Wick films, so teaming with Joe, Nathan and their Motion Picture Group to expand on what we have already built together makes all the sense in the world.”
Stahelski is repped by WME and attorney Tara Kole. Lionsgate’s Executive VP of Business Affairs Bonnie Stylides negotiated the deal on behalf of the studio.