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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Backlot Buzz—Miramax Seals Deals for Stars to Produce

Just a week after scoring a one-two punch at the box office with its hits “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Spy Kids,” Miramax Films is racing ahead with a slew of new movie projects, including vehicles for Antonio Banderas and Miramax regular Gwyneth Paltrow.

Miramax is developing “Infidel,” a spy thriller set in Cuba, with plans for Banderas to produce and star in the film as a Latino CIA agent sent to stop Fidel Castro’s assassination.

And it is continuing its ongoing relationship with Paltrow who won an Oscar for Miramax’s “Shakespeare in Love” on “Me Times Three,” a romantic comedy in the vein of “Bridget Jones,” based on a novel by New York Times reporter Alex Witchel.

Continuing what’s fast becoming a trend these days, Paltrow will also serve as one of the movie’s producers.

M. Night Shyamalan can do no wrong as far as the Walt Disney Co. is concerned. After all, Shyamalan is the guy who wrote and directed not one but two Disney hits the blockbuster “The Sixth Sense” and the more recent “Unbreakable.”

Now Disney has stepped up to the plate to keep Shyamalan known as Night to his friends in the mouse house. It has paid an undisclosed sum believed to be several million dollars for his new script, “Signs,” another supernatural thriller set in his home state, Pennsylvania.

Shyamalan broke records when he sold “Unbreakable” to Disney in a writing/directing deal that earned him $10 million, and insiders expect his payday for “Signs” to be right up there with that.

More than a decade after “Dances With Wolves” won a fistful of Academy Awards, including one for best film, a sequel is in the works.

Producer Barry Spikings himself an Oscar-winner for “The Deer Hunter” has bought the rights to the novel “The Holy Road,” author Michael Blake’s follow-up to “Dances.”

Blake’s book will be published by Villard in the fall, and he is now adapting it for the screen. That’s how “Dances” began, after Kevin Costner read the then-unknown Blake’s tale in manuscript form.

“Road” centers on Lt. John Dunbar, played by Costner in the film, and picks up his story 10 years on, when he is a renowned warrior among the Plains Indians. It follows his attempts to rescue his wife and child after they are abducted by bloodthirsty American irregulars.

No word yet on whether Costner, who directed “Dances” as well as starring in it, will be involved with the sequel. But if he doesn’t, Spikings can draw comfort from another follow-up, “Hannibal.” Even though Jodie Foster passed on reprising her role in “Silence of the Lambs,” the sequel still earned more than $160 million at the box office.

Just as he gears up for the May 4 release of his Sony Pictures movie “A Knight’s Tale,” Brian Helgeland has teamed with old pal Clint Eastwood on the Warner Bros. film “Mystic River.” The script is adapted from the current bestseller by Dennis Lehane about three childhood friends who are caught up in a murder investigation 25 years later.

The picture is one of several that Eastwood is eyeing to direct next, including another written by Helgeland, “Blood Money,” based on the Michael Connolly thriller. Helgeland is best known for winning a screenplay Oscar (which he shared with writer-director Curtis Hansen) for “L.A. Confidential.”

Contributing columnist Stephen Galloway can be reached at scgalloway2000@aol.com.

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