24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Development

Which unproduced movie should Hollywood make right now?

June 7, 2011 |  4:26 pm

At a gathering of Hollywood producers this past weekend, one question recurred at a number of sessions: Which unproduced film would panelists most like to see made?

Harvey Weinstein said he'd long wanted to pull off a sequel to "Rounders." "I never make sequels but it's something I'd like to revisit," the independent film mogul said, adding that the Web had changed the world of poker such that he could imagine a whole new vein of drama. (There is a preliminary agreement for Weinstein to develop a sequel with the company that bought the Miramax library, but nothing actively is in the works.)

Chabon Morgan Freeman, meanwhile, added his own dream project: a movie based on an Arthur C. Clarke work titled "Rendezvous With Rama." The 1972 sci-fi novel tells of humans who come upon an alien craft that has entered Earth's path. Freeman acquired rights from Clarke about 15 years ago, he said, with high hopes. There's only one obstacle in the way. "If we get a script, we got a movie," Freeman said. It's hardly a small hurdle, and it's a reason the movie likely won't get made anytime soon.

But these difficulties notwithstanding, the discussions called to mind the many unfulfilled ambitions in Hollywood, and which project the rest of us would like to see made. We took a quick informal poll around the office asking which novel, property or real-life story people would most like to see turned into a film.

Among the names that popped up was an adaptation of "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-winner that has been stuck in development limbo for a decade, as well as "Geek Love," Katherine Dunn's cult classic about carnival parents who begin experimenting on their own children.

There's also the screen version of "Independence Day" and the two related books in Richard Ford's series about a troubled male protagonist; there had been off-and-on attempts to develop it, including an effort as an HBO miniseries with "Walk the Line" director James Mangold, but no dice so so far.

If one were to ask late film legends, the answer might come back differently: Stanley Kubrick, for instance, dreamed for years of making an epic out of the story of Napoleon.

The list could go on. For years, fans clamored for "Ender's Game" and are finally getting their wish as a film moves forward with "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" director Gavin Hood. "Atlas Shrugged" is already a movie, but hard-core Randians could be yearning for adaptations of other works.

Most of us have mixed feelings about these dream projects: we're curious to see how the material would be rendered onscreen even as we fear that he development delays (not to mention the difficulty of the material) signal that a film version won't be very good. And yet we remain hopeful.

We thought we'd ask you to weigh in with your preferred material -- could be a novel, could be a real-life story, could even be a video game -- that you'd most like to see turned into a movie. Maybe even throw in an actor or director you'd most like to see do it. We'll tally the results and see which project comes out on top.

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: The jacket of "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay." Credit: Picador


Fred Durst returns to directing with 'Pawn Shop Chronicles'

September 30, 2010 |  2:53 pm

Durst

EXCLUSIVE: Fred Durst might have earned himself a name by grabbing some nookie circa 1999. But the multi-platinum recording artist is now continuing to pursue his other passion -- directing movies.

The Limp Bizkit frontman -- currently on a reunion tour in Europe with his old band -- has signed on to direct "Pawn Shop Chronicles." It's based on a script from a newcomer named Adam Minarovich, and the idea is for an ensemble action/black comedy that those involved say emulates "Pulp Fiction." (In a nutshell, a missing wedding ring leads to a wild-goose chase involving meth addicts, skinheads and an Elvis impersonator.)

The project will be financed and produced by upstart film production company Mimran Schur, whose CEO and co-chairman Jordan Schur, the former Geffen Records president, discovered and signed Durst back in the late '90s to his then-Flip Records.

"Fred is taking a path that's actually very well-traveled," Schur says of Durst, who in addition to two features has directed a number of music videos. "If you look at Brett Ratner or Marc Webb, there are a lot of very successful film directors who learned how to do it by taking the limited canvas of two or three minutes and presenting a compelling narrative."

Durst, whose tour hit a small snag after his drummer was diagnosed with pneumonia, previously directed the female football film "The Longshots" and the college dramedy "The Education of Charlie Banks," which played the festival circuit and drew acclaim for Jesse Eisenberg's performance.

"Paranormal Activity" producer Steven Schneider also will produce "Pawn Shop." Durst was actually said to be talking to Schneider about directing "Paranormal Activity 2," but the two decided to collaborate on "Pawn Shop Chronicles" instead. The movie is set to go into production in early 2011.

Schur "Pawn Shop" is not the only new film on which Mimran Schur is moving forward. In other exclusive news, the company, whose crime drama "Stone" hits theaters next, has just won the rights to a script called "Five Against the Bullet" from Alex Litvak. It's the first script that Litvak, who wrote the recent "Predators" as well as the upcoming Paul W.S. Anderson update of "The Three Musketeers," ever wrote.

The story is an action-thriller centering on a man in Mexico who, after his father is killed by a drug cartel, vows to run for office and clean up the streets despite the high degree of danger. He then must try to accomplish this task while staying one step ahead of the drug cartels pursuing him. Production is also set to start in the first half of 2011.

The high-profile Mexican drug-wars movie "Cartel," which was set to star Josh Brolin, was stopped a month before production by Universal in part because of safety concerns about filming  on location in Mexico. Schur says "Five Against the Bullet"  will shoot either in the U.S. or Puerto Rico because of those dangers.

Meanwhile, "Stone," the Edward Norton-Robert DeNiro cat-and-mouse thriller about an arsonist and a parole officer, has begun to receive reasonably favorable notice. Producers and distributor Overture are hoping for a chunk of the audience that has come out to see the similarly adult-oriented "The Town." "We wanted to keep the integrity of the story in both the movie and the marketing," Schur says. "You can make a character-driven crime thriller and pretend like it's any other action movie, but we wanted to stay true to the story."

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photos: Top: Fred Durst performing last year in Reading, England; credit: Simone Joyner / Getty Images. Bottom: Jordan Schur; credit: Mimran Schur.

 


An in-flight scare leads to a buzz script on the ground

March 24, 2010 |  3:36 pm

 Zach
EXCLUSIVE: The path that winds from a screenwriter’s mind to a finished film at the multiplex can begin in the most unlikely of places. For Zach Dean, it started on a seemingly doomed flight.

In September 2005, Dean, a high school teacher and struggling screenwriter, was sitting on JetBlue Flight 292 from Burbank to New York when news reports on the in-flight television system informed him and 138 other passengers that the plane’s landing gear had malfunctioned, possibly preventing it from landing.

For more than two hours, he sat on the plane contemplating his mortality as it circled Southern California, burning fuel in the hopes of making a dangerous touchdown a little less risky should the aircraft catch fire. By the time it finally landed — safely — at LAX, Dean had pledged to write a script about family.

The result of that high-altitude resolution is a screenplay called “Kin,” which Dean, 35, finished last year. Although the script’s narrative suggests “A Simple Plan” or “Bonnie & Clyde” more than a feel-good family film — it’s partly about a brother and sister who commit a robbery, kill a state trooper in rural Michigan and then are forced to go on the run — it touches on the themes of love and loyalty that raced through Dean’s mind as he watched his fate play out on the in-flight video system.

“The flight solidified what I think is important, and what’s important affects what you write,” Dean says. (During the flight, he also resolved to have a child with his wife; the couple now has a 2-year-old daughter.)

In a turn sure to provide inspiration to hundreds of unknown screenwriters, “Kin” has been steadily gaining momentum in Hollywood and is now attracting some top names.

Stefan Ruzowitzky, director of the 2007 foreign-language Oscar winner, “The Counterfeiters,” has agreed to direct the film, and he and Dean have spent the last several months developing the script. Meanwhile, 2929 Productions, the film financing and production entity run by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban that has been behind movies including “Good Night, and Good Luck” and “Two Lovers,” has chosen the script as its point of reentry into the filmmaking business after a notable hiatus.

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