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One Merger To End Them All

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Shari’s choice, 300 2.0, ​Elle Fanning​ becomes Prey, Sarah Snook’s meltdown, Killer Films bodyswap, and allegorical dogs.

Let’s go!


ONE MERGER TO END THEM ALL

We still don’t know what Shari Redstone (majority shareholder of Paramount) is doing.

But as of now, the Skydance, RedBird, and KKR consortium have agreed to initial deal terms to acquire Paramount:

  • $2 bn for Shari Redstone
    • E.g., buying her stake in National Amusements (Paramount’s parent company)
  • Skydance buys nearly 50% of Class B shares for $15/share
    • $4.5 bn total
  • $3 bn in cash to reduce Paramount’s debt
    • $1.5 bn from Skydance
    • $1.5 bn from RedBird

If this closes, the ownership of the company, which will remain public, would breakdown as follows:

  • 66%
    • Skydance & RedBird
  • 33%
    • Paramount’s Class B shareholders

The leadership team would tentatively be as follows:

  • Paramount/Skydance Studios CEO
    • David Ellison (current CEO of Skydance)
  • Paramount Global/CBS
    • Jeff Shell, executive RedBird (former CEO NBCUnivesal)
    • Jeff Zucker, Executive RedBird (former president of CNN)

The total deal is valued at $8 bn.

A National Amusements spokesperson stated:

“We received the financial terms of the proposed Paramount/Skydance transaction over the weekend and we are reviewing them.”

No word on when Redstone will make a decision.

Two possible yet unlikely targets:

Paramount’s annual shareholder meeting today (June 4th), or Paramount’s employee town hall is tomorrow (June 5th).


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

In another consolidation, Sony will absorb its boutique TriStar TV label. The production and distribution company has made:

  • Lucky Hank (2023) (AMC)
    • Starring Bob Odenkirk
  • The Afterparty (2022-2023) (Apple)
  • On Becoming a God in Central Florida (2019, Showtime)
    • Starring Kristen Dunst

Created in 1986, TriStar TV was re-launched in 2015 by Sony to champion underrepresented voices.

Two executives will depart:

  • EVP Jennifer Turner (2022-2024)
  • SVP Development Nicole Norwood (2022)

The President of Sony Pictures Television Studios, Katherine Pope, discussed the contraction of the scripted TV industry (peaking in 2022 with over 600 shows):

“The reason you go into TV, as opposed to film, is the novelization format. It’s the fact that characters get to grow and take baby steps forward and baby steps back over a long period of time. To not really be able to do that, where shows were like these little one-offs that also didn’t break through, I think that was a challenge to the core tenants of TV in general.”

No other staff is departing TriStar TV at this time.

Netflix is set to develop the psychological thriller novel None of This Is True into a feature adaptation.

Here’s the synopsis from the NY Times bestselling book on which the film is based:

Celebrating her 45th birthday at her local pub, popular podcaster Alix Summers crosses paths with an unassuming woman called Josie Fair. Josie, it turns out, is also celebrating her 45th birthday…but, as quickly as she arrived, Josie disappears. Only then does Alix discover that Josie has left a terrible and terrifying legacy in her wake, and that Alix has become the subject of her own true crime podcast, with her life and her family’s lives under mortal threat.

Eleanor Burgess, best known for writing on HBO’s Perry Mason, is set to write the script for the film version of None of This Is True with young media company Modern Magic attached to produce with Jewell on board to EP.

Zack Snyder will potentially partner with Warner Bros again to bring 300 back as a TV series. 300 was a massive hit when it came out and made Snyder a household name, it makes sense to bring this to a different format and while considered violent at the time, The Boys makes it look like a Pixar movie. Warner Bros and Snyder, like the bickering couple that breaks up publicly only to get back together.

Tidbit:

The only good thing to come out of the Sony Spidermanless Spider-Man universe was the schlocky, violent, and surprisingly funny take on his most arch-nemesis Venom. Turning it into a buddy comedy was a stroke of genius that gave its Star, Tom Hardy, as Eddie Brock, something to play with. It also paid off with Venom making $856 M, and its sequel, co-starring Woody Harrelson, making $506 M. A lot of this intriguing take on a dark character came from the mind of its writer Kelly Marcel, who will also now be directing the third (and seemingly final) outing for this character (rumor has it that Marvel is working on their own Venom). The final trailer has everything that worked for the other two and seems to have the odd couple on the road and on the run from other symbiote lifeforms: “Eddie, my home has found us.” In theaters sometime in October.

Check out the trailer here.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Elle Fanning is becoming an action horror star. Fanning is in talks to star in Badlands, the new film in the Predator universe which will be directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) who helmed the previous Predator film Prey (2022, trailer).

Fanning has never stopped forging her path from stepping outside her sister, Dakota Fanning’s shadow, with roles like a corrupted model in Neon Demon (2016) or the curious boarding student in the unsettling Sofia Coppola Gothic thriller The Beguiled (2017).

No shoot or release date for Badlands has been announced. But we believe these roles could help elevator Elle Fanning into a bankable action/horror star.

Tidbits:

Sarah Snook (Succession) is about to have a meltdown. The one-time Emmy and two-time Golden Globe-winning actress will star in the upcoming Peacock series All Her Fault.

Official synopsis:

Marissa Irvine (Snook) arrives at 14 Arthur Avenue, expecting to pick up her young son Milo from his first playdate with a boy at his new school. But the woman who answers the door isn’t a mother she recognizes. She isn’t the nanny. She doesn’t have Milo. And so begins every parent’s worst nightmare.

No word on the target shoot or release date.

Michael Stuhlbarg re-teems with director Luca Guadagnino in After the Hunt.

Here’s the official synopsis:

The movie follows a college professor (Julia Roberts) who finds herself at a personal and professional crossroads when a star pupil levels an accusation against one of her colleagues. As she navigates the difficult situation, a dark secret from her own past threatens to come to light.

No word on who Stuhlbarg will play in this upcoming Amazon MGM series, but he was sublime as a devastatingly transparent father to Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name (dir: Guadagnino), who details how we become emotionally bankrupt as we age (clip). Grab some tissues if you’re going to watch that…


FESTIVALS

Open AI comes to the Tribeca Film Festival. The festival will hold a sidebar, “Sora Shorts,” featuring five new* films made entirely with Open AI’s Sora.

Here are the directors of those films:

Jane Rosenthal, Co-founder and CEO of Tribeca, stated:

“Tribeca is rooted in the foundational belief that storytelling inspires change. Humans need stories to thrive and make sense of our wonderful and broken world… sometimes these stories come to us as a feature film, an immersive experience, a piece of art, or even an AI-generated short film. I can’t wait to see what this group of fiercely creative Tribeca alumni come up with.”

Sora has not yet been publically released.

The films were bound by the rules set forth by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA terms following last year’s strike.

There seems to be no stopping the technology from extending its tendrils into the industry, which in recent days has allegedly stolen Scarlett Johansson’s voice for their latest model (Read our cover story on it here) and signed mysterious licensing agreements with Vox and The Atlantic.

Tribeca will run June 5-16.

*not the films that debuted on the Open AI’s Sora First Impressions website.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

A killer body swap. The latest series from Killer Films (May December, Past Lives) is People Collide.

Here’s the official synopsis:

When Eli leaves the cramped Bulgarian apartment he shares with Elizabeth, his more organized and successful wife, he discovers that he now inhabits her body. Not only have he and his wife traded bodies, but Elizabeth, living as Eli, has disappeared without a trace.

What follows is Eli’s search across Europe and to America for his missing wife—and a roving, no-holds-barred exploration of gender and embodied experience.

Killer Films’ recent slate seems to gravitate towards some level of disembodiment. Their Sundance film, A Different Man, releasing Sept 20th, is focused on an aspiring actor Edward (Sebastian Stan), who undergoes a radical medical procedure to drastically transform his appearance.

Their 2023 standout May December (trailer) took the subject metaphorically, with Natalie Portman figuratively trying to embody Julianne Moore by studying her for a role that becomes a pathological obsession.

People Collide finds its writer and showrunner in Abbi Jacobson, the co-creator/star of Broad City.

A remake of the Danish film Riders of Justice will be adapted and directed in English by The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) filmmakers Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson.

The original Riders of Justice (2020) film starring Mads Mikkelsen follows a recently deployed soldier who returns home to care for his teenage daughter after his wife is killed in a train accident. But when a team of statistics experts investigating the accident claim foul play, the soldier embarks on a revenge-fueled mission to find those responsible (trailer).

There’s a tinge of absurdity in the violence in Riders of Justice that seems well-calibrated for Schwartz and Nilson’s sensibilities.

Not only the highest-grossing indie film of 2019 but the winner of the coveted Audience Award at SXSW, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a modern take on The Huckleberry Finn tale that follows Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a wayward fisherman on the run who befriends a young man with Down syndrome, Zak, who recently escaped from his care facility because of aspirations to become a professional wrestler (delightfully absurd trailer).

Lionsgate Studios and 21 Laps Entertainment (Arrival, Stranger Things) will be teaming up to produce the new Riders of Justice adaptation.

Tidbits:

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s (12 Years a Slave) directorial debut at Sundance 2024, Rob Peace, was just acquired for distribution by Republic Pictures.

The film, produced by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) is about Robert Peace (Ejiofor) who grew up in an impoverished section of Newark and later graduated from Yale with degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry while on scholarship. Peace led a dual life in academia and research while also earning six figures selling marijuana.

Ejiofor also wrote the screenplay.

The film is set for limited theatrical release in the US on August 2nd.

Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill are the directing/writing duo behind Dr. Strange, The Black Phone, and Sinister. They have signed a first-look deal with Screen Gems (owned by Sony).

Alex Gibney (dir: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief) will direct Salman Rushdie’s profound memoir Knife, which details Rushdie’s survival of a brutal stabbing and the profound love that grew out of that horrific event. Watch Rushdie open up about the book and his experience here.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Director Pawel Pawlikowski (dir/writer: Cold War, Ida) has a new screenplay, The Revolution According to Kamo.

Here’s the official synopsis:

The early years of Joseph Stalin and his friend Simon Arshaki Ter-Petrosyan (Kamo), from their childhood to Kamo’s death in 1922, as they navigate the revolutionary movement and Stalin’s ascent to power.

The film is set to be directed by Kornel Mundruczo, who painted a heart-gutting film in Pieces of a Woman about a mother (Vanessa Kirby) who loses her child during birth, which sends her and her husband (Shia LaBeouf) and her mother (Ellen Burstyn) into an emotional tailspin (trailer). That film was EP’d by Martin Scorsese and was an official selection at TIFF and Venice, with Kirby winning the Best Actress award at Venice.

Mundruczo is a major talent and we can’t wait to see what emotional turmoil will drag his protagonists straight into hell.

Our favorite of Kornel Mundruczo’s films is White God (trailer). No spoilers. But never have dogs been so cinematically realized in allegorical territory.


ON THIS DAY

1967. 19th Emmy Awards: Mission: Impossible, The Monkees, Don Knotts & Lucille Ball win.


See you tomorrow.


Written by Gabriel Miller, Spencer Carter, and Madelyn Menapace.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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