UPDATED with Sony confirmation: Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman just validated Deadline’s morning scoop that the studio won worldwide rights on Quentin Tarantino’s new film, the first of his long career to not be directed for either Miramax or The Weinstein Company. This email was just dispersed internally on the Culver City lot.
I am pleased to report that late last night, Sony did indeed succeed in securing the worldwide rights in all media to Quentin Tarantino’s next epic film. I was looking forward to sharing the news with you all myself this morning, but unfortunately the story leaked.
Bottom line: Quentin chose Sony over many other competitors. And he did this because of all of YOU! He remembers well the outstanding job the company did on Django, and was particularly impressed last week by the presentation of our marketing and distribution capabilities, both domestically and internationally. I’m grateful to all who worked to make this happen and confident that we will do a great job for him on this film and others to come.
It’s a real credit to the studio and to each of you.
Chairman Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 4:58 AM: Sony Pictures has won the derby to finance and distribute #9, the working title of Quentin Tarantino’s next film, sources said. The film is set in Los Angeles in the late ’60s and early ’70s, with Tarantino hoping hard that Margot Robbie will play the role of Sharon Tate. Just about every studio in town except Disney chased it, along with several financiers looking to fund the entire film, and mini-majors seeking domestic rights. The deal came after a long night of bargaining between Sony and Tarantino’s reps at WME.
The film is an ensemble, and Tarantino has had conversations with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio for the two main lead male roles. It is unclear if all three will be in the movie, or two of them, when Tarantino begins production next year, but it certainly looks like Tarantino will have a star cast here. The picture is being produced by Harry Potter’s David Heyman, Tarantino, and Shannon McIntosh, with Georgia Kacandes will be exec producer and line producer.
This has been the biggest skirmish over a project this side of the derby for international and ancillary rights to the James Bond film that is still going on right now (domestic rights will go to the joint venture between MGM and Annapurna).
It is a big get for Sony’s Tom Rothman and his production chief Sanford Panitch, and I’m told Tarantino sparked to Rothman’s deep knowledge of film history. Few can hang with Tarantino in that regard, but Rothman held his own and the studio chased this one hard. Rothman has overhauled Sony’s position as an international distributor, and Sony Pictures will have world rights on Tarantino’s film. Also important was a marketing campaign presented by Josh Greenstein and his team. Since Tarantino spent his whole career making movies in one place, there is every reason to imagine that if he enjoys this experience, he might well make his final film at Sony. This film’s working title comes from this being the ninth film for the director, who has pledged that he will stop at 10. That means one final film after this one.
The bidding came down to all the majors but Disney. Fox backed away during the week, and aside from Sony, Warner Bros and Universal, others circling included Annapurna and Lionsgate for a domestic deal that would require the international sales effort that went into The Hateful Eight. Also knocking were several pure equity financiers.
After making every movie in his directing career for Miramax and The Weinstein Company, Tarantino made the hard decision to look for a new home for his upcoming film. Tarantino planned to make this film with TWC, but those plans imploded with the scandalous removal of Harvey Weinstein after the revelation of a litany of nightmarish stories about forced sexual encounters with dozens of actresses and women who worked for the company. So The House That Quentin Built — as Weinstein often called his company because of the out-sized success of Tarantino-directed pictures that included Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained — is in the process of being sold off, and despite Tarantino’s loyalty to the 170 or so staff there that helped make his movies successful, he had little choice but to exit.
There has been a lot of press that the script focuses on Charles Manson and the murder spree he orchestrated, but I’m told that is akin to calling Inglourious Basterds a movie about Adolf Hitler, when the Nazi leader was only in a scene or two. Deadline broke months ago that Robbie had been asked to play Manson murder victim Tate.
The film will be set in Los Angeles and begin production in mid-2018 for a 2019 release, and it will be an R-rated film, like all Tarantino’s directing efforts. Those who’ve read it said the script has heart and a strong commercial appeal, and if there is a film of Tarantino’s it can be best compared to, it would be Pulp Fiction, which also was set in Los Angeles. The film will carry a budget in the range of Django Unchained.