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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: John Singleton

John Singleton on his 'Hustle & Flow' suit against Paramount

October 19, 2011 |  1:15 pm



"Hustle & Flow" was such a sensation at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival that John Singleton, who produced and financed the film himself, had a host of studios bidding for the film. Even though other studios offered more money, Singleton says he went with Paramount Pictures because it not only agreed to pay $9 million for the film, but also pledged to finance and distribute two films of Singleton's choosing, with $3.5-million budgets.  

"Hustle & Flow" went on to make $22 million in the United States, earned glowing reviews and won an Oscar. But more than six years after the deal was signed, Singleton is suing Paramount for $20 million, saying the studio failed to live up to its end of the bargain, having never made either picture in the agreement (which is known in Hollywood as a "put" deal). 

"I'd always had a great relationship with Paramount, going back to being an intern on the lot when I was at USC," Singleton told me. "But a deal's a deal and they didn't honor the deal. I could have sold 'Hustle & Flow' for more money to someone else, but Paramount promised something special — giving me the ability to make two low-budget films with young filmmakers and great talent. All I've ever done is make money for Paramount. I've lived up to all the deals I've signed and it should work both ways."


Responding to the suit, which was filed Wednesday morning in Los Angeles County Superior Court, a Paramount representative said: “Paramount was hoping that John Singleton would produce two more pictures before his agreement with our studio ended in 2010, but that did not happen. Instead, he went on to direct 'Abduction' for Lionsgate. Paramount fulfilled all of its obligations and his claims have absolutely no merit."

Best known for his groundbreaking 1991 debut film, "Boyz N' the Hood," Singleton had carved out a successful career as a filmmaker by the time he took "Hustle & Flow" to Sundance, having directed a number of commercial pictures, including a remake of "Shaft" at Paramount. But his goal was to become a producer, overseeing modestly budgeted, multicultural genre films that he believed would fill a void in the marketplace.   

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John Singleton: 'Abduction' will 'definitely' have a sequel

September 16, 2011 | 11:05 am

John Singleton will likely direct a sequel to Abduction
"Abduction" -- the film that marks Taylor Lautner's official bid to become an action star -- doesn't hit theaters until next Friday, Sept. 23. But director John Singleton says that no matter how the movie fares at the box office in the coming weeks, a sequel to the action flick is already a done deal.

When asked if there would be another installment of "Abduction," Singleton replied enthusiastically: "Definitely."

"We've been talking about it while we're making the movie. Of course, I'm gonna direct it," he grinned, speaking from the premiere of the film in Hollywood Thursday night. (You can check out a video interview with Singleton from the event below.)

And if the movie tanks at the multiplex? "I don't think we have to worry about that," he said. "It's happening."

"Abduction," in which Lautner stars as a high schooler who discovers his identity is different than his parents led him to believe, is the first film Singleton has directed in six years. The filmmaker, whose biggest successes include "Boyz N the Hood" and "Shaft," said he's spent his time off "sailing and raising kids." 

He was lured back into the spotlight by "Abduction," he said, because he was intrigued by the possibility of how he could help shape an emerging star like Lautner. (His daughters, avid fans of the "Twilight" series, also told him they'd kill him if he passed on the opportunity.)

 "I’m a competitive guy. I’ve worked with a lot of new talent, and I wanted to show what I could do with Taylor,” Singleton told us in an interview for a profile of Lautner, which appears in Sunday’s L.A. Times. “I wanted to show there’s a certain edge to him. It’s not just about how he looks. It’s about him being able to convey emotions in a character and be funny and be very physical in the action scenes. That’s what truly makes a star.”


A new dawn for Taylor Lautner

2011 Movie Preview: 'Abduction'

20 years later, 'Boyz N the Hood' still powerful

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Taylor Lautner, left, with director John Singleton at the premiere of "Abduction." Credit: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

Eye popper du jour: John Singleton will be Taylor Lautner's next director

March 25, 2010 | 12:43 pm

We reported in early March that John Singleton was the lead candidate to direct "Abduction," the Taylor Lautner movie from Lionsgate about a teenager who realizes his parents may not actually be his parents -- and then gets caught up in a web of government agents, espionage and other intrigue.

Now it's official. The director of the iconic "Boyz n the Hood" and producer on edgy urban movies such as "Hustle & Flow" will be the man who next directs the teen pinup. Sources confirmed the hire; Lionsgate could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lionsgate aims to shoot "Abduction" this summer, ahead of Lautner's fall responsibilities for "Breaking Dawn." Based on an original script from Shawn Christensen, the film has a thriller conceit, which is not necessarily what one thinks of when one thinks of John Singleton. But hey, directors need to work. And many filmmakers these days seem to be taking on some pretty unlikely material. If Stephen Daldry and Gus Van Sant could be considered for a "Twilight" movie, anything is possible.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: "Boyz n the Hood." Credit: Columbia Pictures


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