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Week in Review...


It's official, though several Internet news sites reported it already, but Frank Darabont will indeed write "Mission: Impossible 3," replacing original scribe Robert Towne, who penned the first two entries in the hit Tom Cruise franchise. Reportedly, Towne is now focusing on his pet project "Ask the Dust," which has been in the works for more than a quarter-century and is due to go into production next month in South Africa. He is adapting Jan Fante'S Depression-era novel of the same name as well as directing.


It's only a matter of time until movies will be so expensive that the pool of writers who will be allowed to even touch one will be so small that you the aspiring screenwriter will have little or no hope of ever making it in the industry. Directors are sticking to writers they are familiar with and trust, studios do the same, as do the producers. They rarely like to go looking outside of the inner-circle for that new hot spec writer. They used to say that the average Hollywood movie cost $100 million to make and market, well not anymore! In his final appearance at the movie theater industry's annual ShoWest convention Tuesday, Motion Picture Assn. of America (MPAA) president and CEO Jack Valenti said in his annual report to conference attendees that the average cost of making and marketing a major studio film surpassed $100 million for the first time last year. Unfortunately, it was not the only bad piece of news he delivered. Ticket sales at the domestic box office fell last year to $9.49 billion, off 0.3% from 2002's record haul of $9.52 billion. The number of tickets sold dropped further, off 4% from 2002's 1.64 billion to 1.57 billion.


  • New Line has picked up SENIOR CLASS, a pitch by Chris Parrish for Cosmic Entertainment and Workshed to produce. It tells the story of an older man who moves into an upscale retirement community only to find out that he doesn't fit in because of high school-like rivalries that play out between popular and unpopular crowds.

  • Writers Paul Benson and Matt Sullivan have sold an untitled spoof of martial arts films to Dream Entertainment.

  • Working Title Films snapped up David Logan's spec script THE RIP about a thief who is hired to steal the diamonds from the Millenium Dome but uses the initial theft as a diversion for a score that's twice as big.

  • Gustin Nash will write and direct YOUTH IN REVOLT, an adaptation of the C.D. Payne novel, for Lions Gate and producer David Permut. Book is the tale of a precocious 14-year-old high school student who gets through the bitter breakup of his parents by concentrating on a quest to lose his virginity.

  • Twentieth Century Fox and Scott Free have optioned the Kathleen Tessaro novel ELEGANCE with Christopher Monger set to adapt the tale of a bored woman who reinvents herself.

  • Offspring Entertainment picked up THE FIANCEE, written by Jennifer Robinson and Dyanne Stemple, about a woman who breaks off her engagement to the seemingly perfect guy. She decides the only way to get rid of him is for her to find him a new girlfriend, but in the course of doing that, she falls back in love with the man.

  • Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment grabbed THE EXORCISM OF ANNELIESE MICHEL, a horror thriller from writers Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman. Derrickson also is attached to direct. A true story, the case of Michel is well known among those who study exorcisms. In 1976, the Catholic Church officially recognized the demonic possession of an 18-year-old German college freshman. During her exorcism, the young woman died, and a priest stood trial for causing her death.

  • Tina Chism sold her pitch LIGHTS OUT to Paramount for Lynda Obst to produce. The romantic comedy is set in New York and centers on a woman who is prepping for what could be the greatest blind date of her life. However, the Big Apple falls under a citywide blackout, and she and her date are forced to search for each other under impossible conditions.

  • Universal Pictures has picked up 32 AND SINGLE, a romantic comedy from writer Ken Rance that is being developed as a vehicle for Gabrielle Union. It's about a New York businesswoman on the corporate fast track who has to earn her stripes by going to New Ulm, Minn., to oversee the closing of a factory.

  • Sam Harper will write the second installment of CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN for 20th Century Fox. Harper is also rewriting THE JETSONS and sold OVERPARENTING for producer/director Adam Shankman about the anxious parents of a first grader who spend Christmas break with their son's new school friend and his parents.

  • Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise will direct and star in, respectively, H.G Wells' THE WAR OF THE WORLDS for C/W Prods. and DreamWorks. David Koepp will rewrite a Josh Friedman-penned first-draft script.

  • Room 9 Entertainment purchased the teen comedy QUEEN LARA by Nicholas Thurkettle. Pic, based on Shakespeare's KING LEAR, is set to shoot this summer.

  • Ali LeRoi will write the golfing comedy THE CLUB for Paramount. It centers on the fictional George Washington Carver Country Club in Compton. The facility's owner attempts to solve its financial problems by luring a pro golf event, sparking a fight between his son and a local hustler.

  • Disney has picked up SOUTH OF THE BORDER, a pitch by Jeff Bushell, for First Entertainment to produce. A live-action movie in which the animals will talk, the story chronicles the adventures of Mitzi, a pampered Beverly Hills Chihuahua accustomed to riding in a purse. While on a spa vacation in Mexico with her owner, she gets lost and is forced to find her way back home.

  • Red Wagon Entertainment bought CAMP ROCKAWAY, a pitch by Leigh Dunlap (A CINDERELLA STORY) for Columbia Pictures. Story is based on an article in the Sunday Telegraph magazine called "Girls Allowed," by Alexandra Jacobs. The pic will focus on two girls on opposite ends of the music spectrum (one likes Britney Spears; the other digs the White Stripes) who meet at a rock 'n' roll summer camp. At parents' weekend the girls realize their single parents have been secretly dating and set out to break them up.

  • Christopher McQuarrie will write an untitled military action-adventure for Paramount/Alphaville. The film, set in the world of elite combat units, will center on the fate of a special forces team assigned to test the security of the most sensitive government and military installations. Due to overzealous execution of orders, they are disbanded and the individual members expelled from the military; a year later, they are asked to reassemble to stop the terrorist activities of a group that has adopted their tactics and techniques.

  • DreamWorks has purchased the script RED EYE by Carl Ellsworth about a woman held captive on an airplane. Her captor threatens to kill her father unless she helps him arrange the assassination of a wealthy businessman.

  • Eric Abrams and Matthew Berry sold their pitch THE USER to Paramount for Guy Walks Into a Bar and Penn Station to produce. Story centers on a prospective groom who unwittingly becomes the subject of an angry female rock anthem.

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