It was a banner day on the spec market, as three major sales went down, all of which ending in competitive situations just before much of the town breaks for the Fourth of July holiday. The Jennifer Lawrence-Adam McKay pitch BAD BLOOD was the first to find a home, followed closely by MOONFALL from Independence Day: Resurgence director Roland Emmerich and MARY from The Shallows screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski.
Bad Blood, one of the most eye-catching packages to hit the market in some time, will be scripted by Oscar-winning The Big Short writer-director McKay and star Lawrence as embattled CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who founded the controversial blood test company Theranos. Once Lawrence was attached, McKay got to work selling his story to the studios, and it didn’t take long for the bids to roll in.
At one point, there were up to 10 buyers vying for the medical drama, but ultimately it came down to two studios: Legendary Pictures/Universal and Paramount. Recently installed Legendary head Mary Parent went after this aggressively, beating out her former home, Paramount, with a $3.5 million bid for McKay’s script and a deal in place to fast-track the project or forfeit the rights. The win is also further proof that Legendary’s parent company, the China-based Wanda, is proving to be an asset; Warcraft, which tanked domestically, scored huge numbers in China, and sellers eager to partner with someone who knows how to navigate the notoriously tricky territory. Parent, who is starting to make her mark at Legendary, also beat out Sony and Paramount in another bidding war for the Dwayne Johnson action pitch Skycraper – which just so happens to be set in China.
Moonfall, which Emmerich wrote with Harald Kloser and Spencer Cohen, also went to Universal. The studio dropped seven figures for the sci-fi epic that follows an unlikely band of misfits who must unite to save humanity when the moon falls out of orbit and hurtles towards earth. Emmerich is attached to direct the pic, which is expected to carry his signature style of special effects, mayhem, and blockbuster action.
Fox – the studio releasing Emmerich’s latest, the sequel to 1996’s Independence Day – was also hot for the project, but Universal agreed to fast-track the project, which may have given them the edge.
Last, but certainly not least, Jaswinski’s spec Mary, which sold to Tooley Productions, the company behind the upcoming Gerard Butler pic Hunter Killer. As the spec hit the market, it already had some serious buzz surrounding it, with those who had read the script raving that it’s one of the year’s best. The supernatural thriller, which was pitched as The Shining meets The Conjuring on a boat, centers on a struggling family who buys an old ship a with the hopes of starting a charter business, only to discover its horrifying secrets on the isolated open waters.
Jaswinski, like Emmerich, has a film hitting theaters this weekend – another ocean-set thriller, The Shallows – shortly before his horror pic Satanic hits theaters in limited release on July 1st.
Josh Lyons | Managing Editor