Thunder Road Finds Funds In China And Middle East; Sets Up ‘Gang Story’ Remake For Liam Neeson, Daniel Espinosa

EXCLUSIVE: After seeing his long affiliation with Warner Bros end late last year, producer Basil Iwanyk has taken his Thunder Road in an intriguing and entrepreneurial direction that might become the way producers embrace the end of studio overhead deals. Iwanyk has redrawn Thunder Road and made deals with Italia Films and China-based Fundamental Films. Italia gets distribution rights in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East, and Fundamental gets releasing rights in China. Besides getting an inside track on having Thunder Road films play in China, Iwanyk gets high seven-figures to fund Thunder Road’s development. In the configuration set up by CAA and Gotham-based investment bank CEA, Thunder Road will own the rest of the world on all of the projects, and has the ability to make domestic distribution deals with any studio in town.

Under his new partnership, Iwanyk’s Thunder Road has already put together at least two star-driven projects. They include a remake of the French crime film Gang Story, which has Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa attached to direct, Liam Neeson attached to star, and David Scarpa (Daredevil reboot) writing the script. They’ve also hired Grace Of Monaco‘s Arash Amel to script the story of slain journalist Marie Colvin, that is being developed as a star vehicle for Charlize Theron. Colvin was killed in Syria last year, and the film is based on a Vanity Fair article penned by Marie Brenner. That is just a hint of the projects Iwanyk expects to materialize with a new surplus of development funding that will be spent buying and developing worthy scripts. In addition, Thunder Road also has such projects as a Summit-based Egyptian myth movie that Alex Proyas is attached to direct this fall. Thunder Road separately has a TV affiliation at Sony, and that remains intact, and the company will continue to make progress on a slew of development projects for Warner Bros, including The Guinness Book Of World Records, and a Chris Boal-scripted epic film on the life of Julius Caesar that Jonathan Liebesman is attached to direct, and the Clint Eastwood-directed A Star Is Born.

Iwanyk has spent close to the past year putting together the new construct of the company with Peter Lawson, the former top indie acquisitions executive who last year joined him for The Weinstein Company. They will produce these movies together. Thunder Road’s new construct won’t be available for every producer; Iwanyk makes studio-sized commercial action movies, the kind that makes offshore distribution companies salivate and overspend to acquire at festivals. During his long run at Warner Bros (he became a producer after serving as an executive at the studio, with both tenures spanning 13 years), Iwanyk’s Thunder Road has produced such films as the upcoming The Seventh Son,  The Expendables, Clash Of The Titans, The Town and We Are Marshall.

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