EXCLUSIVE: With filming wrapped on the third Fantastic Beasts film, David Yates is looking to take a break from the universe of Harry Potter as the director has his sights set on a new drama at Sony. Sources tell Deadline, Yates is in talks to direct an untitled original film for Sony Pictures, with the original screenplay written by Wells Tower inspired by Evan Hughes’ nonfiction book The Hard Sell, which will be published January 2022 by Doubleday, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
The film is being produced by Lawrence Grey through his Grey Matter Productions banner. David Yates is co-producing through his company Wychwood Media. Ben Everard and Lewis Taylor are executive producing and Cyrus Mojibi, Patrick Wade, Lawrence Kao, Lloyd Everard are co-producing.
Plot is being kept under wraps, though sources say the film is in the vein of Wolf Of Wall Street and set in the world of pharmaceutical sales and the opioid epidemic. For Yates, the film would mark only his second non-Harry Potter pic in the last decade (the other being Warner Bros. Tarzan pic) and also mark something different for the director known for his big-budget tentpoles. With WB letting Yates know there would be a break between the third and fourth Fantastic Beast films, one of the key architect’s in that franchise and the Harry Potter series was looking for something on the smaller scale after a run of large productions. Insiders say, Tower’s script appealed to Yates and once a deal closes, the idea would be to shoot next spring.
While details are vague on the plot, the role at the center of the story is said to be one that will be highly-coveted by actresses across town with the studio aiming high for A-list talent as meetings are set to begin soon with execs and Yates
Yates is considered one of the core brain trusts behind the Harry Potter franchise, helming the last four films, Harry Potter films: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, which brought the record-breaking franchise to an epic conclusion. Once the studio greenlit its spin-off series, he was quickly brought back on to helm Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and is currently completing the third movie in the series to be released in 2022.
Wells Tower’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, GQ, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. Tower was also included in The New Yorker’s list of twenty promising fiction writers under the age of forty. His film credits include The True American for Kathryn Bigelow. On the television side, he wrote Paper for Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and HBO and Mayor for Alec Baldwin and HBO.
Through Grey Matter Productions, Grey recently produced The Laundromat, directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas and Yes Day starring Jennifer Garner and Edgar Ramírez. The film, directed by Miguel Arteta, was seen by 62 million households within its first four weeks of release becoming Netflix’s biggest family film to date. Grey is set to go into production on both Yes Day 2 and Family Leave in the coming year, with Jennifer Garner starring in both films and reuniting her with Lawrence Grey once again.
Yates is repped by CAA, Casarotto Ramsay, and Eric Brooks at Goodman Schenkman & Brecheen, LLP. Tower is repped by CAA and attorney Tara Kole at Gang, Tyre, Ramer Brown & Passman Inc.