EXCLUSIVE: Looks like it’s down to three studios on the year’s hottest auction, the untitled genre thriller that will reunite writer-director Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, Deadline hears. Sony, Warner Bros and Universal are battling it out for a deal that would allow Coogler to start production this summer. It also might portend a longer relationship for the hitmaker-with-heart filmmaker and his Proximity Media.
Here’s what I’ve heard. Coogler’s script is a period genre film that is a true star vehicle for Jordan, who has worked with the director on Fruitvale Station and the Creed and Black Panther franchises. The numbers being thrown around for worldwide rights are large but not out of line, given the commercial track record of both men. I’ve heard the film’s budget is around $90 million.
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There also has been discussion of potential co-ownership of the IP, as well as potential “put” pictures for Coogler and his Proximity Media. Landing Coogler post-Black Panther as a cornerstone filmmaker would be extremely valuable to any of these studios; he has done nothing but hatch hits and critically acclaimed pictures since he broke in to the business with 2013’s Fruitvale Station. He’ll produce this film with Proximity Media’s Zinzi Coogler and Sev Ohanian, with Rebecca Cho exec producing.
It’s rare to see that the most often-mentioned combatants here are traditional studios and not streamers. That’s because the filmmakers are insistent upon a full-blown global theatrical play. That wouldn’t work for a streamer like Netflix, which always is in the mix and often bidding the biggest sums to attract top filmmakers. Others such as Apple and Amazon have done the theatrical route, but I’m not hearing their names in this battle royal. Some are saying Warner Bros has an edge, but all three studios still are scrapping.
The auction will be settled soon. Stay tuned. Coogler and Jordan are both repped by WME. Coogler is managed by Charles King, and Jordan is managed by M88’s Phil Sun.
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