Paramount is about to finalize what will likely be the biggest deal of this year’s Toronto Film Festival: a whopping $12.5 million for the Chris Rock comedy “Top Five.” The studio, which is acquiring worldwide rights to the movie, has also agreed to spend $20 million on marketing.
The Scott Rudin-produced film, which Rock stars in and directs about a day in the life of a comedian movie star, premiered in Toronto on Saturday night and sparked a fierce bidding war among several studios.
The film’s budget was north of $10 million. Buyers interested in the film included CBS Films, Sony, Open Road and Relativity.
Part of the concern for potential buyers is that with a substantial promotional commitment and Rock’s limited international following, the film would be almost wholly dependent on its domestic box office in order to make a profit. However, the film was enthusiastically received by audiences at Toronto and knowledgeable insiders say it has real commercial potential.
Paramount makes sense because the studio’s chief, Brad Grey, has a longstanding relationship with Rock.
article by Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh via Variety.com
Having already established himself as one of the top actors for big-budget tentpoles, Dwayne Johnson is now looking to take on a stronger dramatic role and has agreed to star in the adaptation of the best-selling memoir Not Without Hope. Production company Relativity recently acquired the worldwide rights to finance, produce and distribute the film. Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh will produce, with Johnson, Johnson’s manager Dany Garcia, Relativity President Tucker Tooley and Rick French, chairman & CEO of Raleigh-based French/West/Vaughan, executive producing.
Based on the memoir by Nick Schuyler, the story follows four friends — Schuyler along with NFL players Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith, and Schuyler’s best friend, Will Bleakley, a former University of South Florida football player — who were on a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat capsized, stranding the four men at sea. In the days that followed, the men fought to survive as they awaited to see if help would come. Johnson will play Schuyler in the movie.
Schuyler, a former football player is now a personal trainer in Tampa, said “I’m humbled that Relativity was interested in paying tribute to Marquis, Corey and Will, and I was impressed with their vision for the film and how they wanted to honor how these guys lived and loved their families, friends and teammates.” Brett Dahl is overseeing the project for the studio. Hiram Garcia serves as co-executive producer. “Nick Schuyler’s book is extremely moving, and Relativity is proud to work with the Rock, Nick and the entire team on creating a movie that honors this powerful story,” said Robbie Brenner, president of production for Relativity.