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Swedish spitfire Espinosa could seek safety in South America

April 29, 2010 | 12:45 pm

EXCLUSIVE:  One of the hottest scripts in Hollywood right now is "Safe House," which as we told you about back in February is one of the few priority films at a studio that's not a remake or brand adaptation, thank the heavens. It's a movie from a young writer named David Guggenheim about a U.S. intelligence agent and his prisoner, who are forced to seek refuge in safe houses across South America -- a kind of "Bourne Identity" by way of "Collateral."

Snabba Now Universal and producer Scott Stuber are closing in on a director to bring Guggenheim's vision to the screen. Three filmmakers are among the finalists --  "Buried" director Rodridgo Cortes, "The "Losers" director Sylvain White and Daniel Espinosa, the Swedish auteur who created a stir with his noir "Snabba Cash." Espinosa, we're told, is poised to get the gig, as the parties are set to try to hammer out a deal.

Espinosa was signed by Hollywood managers and agents after his film drummed up interest at the Berlin Film Festival (the remake rights were subsequently picked up by Warner Bros. as a Zac Efron producing/starring vehicle). The Swedish director seems like a perfect choice, if only because a dark but accessible vision, as he flashed in "Snabba," is exactly what material like "Safe House" needs if Hollywood is going to create some new franchises instead of dining out endlessly on the old ones.

But the larger story here is how producers are now willing to look outside -- both English-speaking countries and traditional channels -- for filmmakers who can direct their hot scripts, even the broadly commercial ones. You can try to get an old-timey A-lister, spend a lot of money and then find out he's not available when you're ready to shoot. Or you can bring in a fresh voice inexpensively and shoot as soon as you're ready.

-- Steven Zeitchik

(Follow me on Twitter.)

Photo: Poster for "Snabba Cash." Credit: Tre Vanner Productions.

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