Funding

Comic actor Adam Sandler, his production company Happy Madison, and Sony Pictures all have a rich history of working together. They’ve brought us a litany of steaming piles of comedy crap, including titles like Grown Ups, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, and the Kevin James-starring Paul Blart: Mall Cop. And, despite the fact that Sandler’s last horrible excuse for a comedy that he made with Sony, That’s My Boy, didn’t perform up to the standards of his previous films, all indications have been that the studio and Sandler were still perfectly happy in their relationship and ready to continue work on a Grown Ups sequel and then some sort of untitled Western comedy. But recently there was a glimmer of hope. Sony has been experiencing some money troubles, and has, as THR puts it in their report of all this inside baseball stuff, started, “actively seeking partners, divesting and abandoning specific projects.” This means that guys like Sandler, who may be showing signs of slowing down as an earner, are starting to look like a bigger risk to the studio, and that they’re less likely to fund risky projects unless they can get some sort of partner to come on board and split the cost. Suddenly, that untitled Western comedy was in trouble. Might it be possible that it could get put in turnaround, thus sparing us from having to see another terrible Adam Sandler comedy for a few years?

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Yesterday I promised that if we just waited patiently, the remaining questions about Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming movie Side Effects would soon be answered, and a whole new set of questions would probably arise. Oh, how true that was. Before we get into all that, let’s do a brief rundown of the reporting that’s been done on this movie so far. First it was reported that a “psychopharmacology thriller” that Soderbergh was working on called Bitter Pill was getting its funding through a partnership between Annapurna Pictures and Open Road Films, but that the movie would be called Side Effects going forward. Then came news that Annapurna had pulled their funding, possibly based on concerns they had with Blake Lively being cast in the starring role. It was also theorized that the production was looking at a short list of new actresses to take Lively’s place and save the film some face. Finally, the casting rumors looked to be true, because it was announced that Rooney Mara had been chosen to take Lively’s place as the lead. We were then left only with the question of who would come on board to take Annapurna’s place as this movie’s sugar daddy.

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Here we are, once again, talking about Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming thriller about depression and medication, Side Effects. The last time we left our players in this ongoing drama Annapurna Pictures had pulled their funding from the film, reportedly over a kerfuffle about casting. You see, rumor had it that there was some uneasy feelings about Blake Lively playing the lead role in this film, that of a depressed woman who battles addiction and is in the middle of a love triangle involving both her husband and her doctor. Further rumors indicated that there were a whole short-list of actresses that Soderbergh and his people were looking at to replace Lively, and hopefully restore faith in the project. Well, it looks like at least most of those rumors were true. Deadline Bedford is reporting that Lively has been shuffled off the film and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara will now be taking her place as the lead. Seeing as Mara just turned a lot of heads playing a dark, troubled woman and Lively hasn’t ever turned too many heads doing anything, this is probably good news for the movie overall.

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Following Steven Soderbergh’s career has been a winding road full of ups and downs as of late. First he was going to make The Man From U.N.C.L.E., then there was a long period of juggling actors on that film as he tried to nail down a cast, then that movie got cancelled completely. There has been talk of retirement, talk of pushing off retirement to do more things, and generally just a lot of confusion. Things seemed to have reached a moment of stability a week ago, though, when it was announced that he was going forward with his next film, a thriller called Side Effects, and that it had funding stemming from a partnership between Annapurna Pictures and Open Road Films. That’s all up in the air now though, and apparently it comes down to the all too familiar casting woes. Variety is now reporting that Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures has pulled out of the deal, leaving Soderbergh and Open Road to find additional funding on their own. Variety gave no reason as to why the deal fell through, but The Playlist is claiming to have sources close to the situation that say Ellison and her people don’t like the casting of Blake Lively in the lead role. She apparently is set to play a drug addict in the middle of a love triangle between her husband (Channing Tatum) and her doctor (Jude Law).

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Back in November, we reported that newly un-retired director Steven Soderbergh’s next film would be a thriller about the world of psychopharmacology called Bitter Pill. Following Soderbergh’s projects has been kind of a roller coaster ride lately though, so having faith that Bitter Pill was actually going to get made was kind of a…ahem, tough pill to swallow. But things are now looking a lot better on that front. While this is still the Scott Z. Burns script that Soderbergh intends to work on, the film has now been retitled Side Effects, a seemingly arbitrary change that at least points to the fact that active work is being done on development. And that’s not even the big news. The big news is that heiress Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures is stepping up to fund the film, alongside Open Road Films, who will be handling the domestic distribution. That kind of makes this one a lot more official, and seeing as Open Road is hoping for a release in the first half of 2013, shooting is scheduled to start in April and the casting process should begin ASAP. I would imagine that Soderbergh is calling up Matt Damon and George Clooney as we speak. [THR]

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In a presentation he gave a couple weeks back at Comic Con, Robert Rodriguez had some encouraging news about potential sequels to some of his most beloved works. He said that the long-awaited Sin City sequel was a distinct possibility, as long as he could squeeze it in sometime by the end of the year, that a sequel to the B-movie schlock-fest Machete was definitely in the works, with rumblings of a third one already going down, and that it was all going to be possible because of his new company Quick Draw Productions, which will allow him to quickly put together, fund, and film movies without having to deal with all the typical red tape of the studio system. Just a few weeks later, Rodriguez already has an update on how all of his best laid plans surrounding Quick Draw productions are going, and it looks like they’re very quickly paying off in just the ways he hoped they would. We Got This Covered had a chat with Rodriguez, mostly about Spy Kids 4 and smell-o-vision and all of that nonsense, but they managed to also briefly question him on the development of projects that I’m actually interested in, namely Sin City 2 and Machete 2. Rodriguez said, “Sin City 2 is going good, we’re just finishing the script for that, we already got the money. We have everything we need so we can just start shooting as soon as we get the pages. And it’s the same thing […]

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