Voltage Productions and Solipsist Films have purchased the spec script The Driver from writing-directing team Zach Luna and Spenser Cohen. Cohen, who recently graduated from USC, will direct the film. Solipsist’s Stephen L’Heureux and Nic Chartier will produce the project along with Craig J. Flores of Voltage. The Driver follows a man whose suburban life is flipped upside down during his drive to work when he finds himself coerced into being the wheelman of an assembled group of criminals. He soon learns that the thieves were not randomly assembled and that the heist leads to a larger mystery. Voltage (The Hurt Locker) recently completed the independent film Imogene, and Solipsist just set up the vampire thriller Undying Love at Warner Bros. Luna and Cohen are repped by WME and Energy Entertainment.
Nasser Entertainment and Caliber Media Co. have acquired David Lesser’s thriller spec Bodies at Rest. Joseph and Jack Nasser of Nasser Entertainment will produce and finance the film along with Caliber’s Dallas Sonnier and Jack Heller. Mike Goldberg, Josh Adler, and Lesser will serve as co-executive producers on the movie. The project’s story focuses on three thugs who break into a morgue to cover up a crime and the medical examiner and assistant who must find a way to stay alive and protect the evidence. Nasser Entertainment’s next feature film, Ari Graynor’s For a Good Time, Call …, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Caliber is currently in production on 3 Nights in the Desert and Maximum Conviction. Lesser’s previous work has been in television, writing for the shows Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Coach, and Who’s the Boss? He is repped by New Wave Entertainment and Preferred Artists.
Warner Bros has picked up the action/sci-fi pitch Rise from first-time writer David Karlak. Although details of the project are currently being kept under wraps by the studio, Roy Lee and Underground will work together to produce the film. Lawrence Grey will also be a producer, and John Middleton will serve as an executive producer on the movie. Saw franchise scribes Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan worked with Karlak to write the pitch. Karlak, who recently had success with his short film The Candidate, is repped by Paradigm, Underground, and attorney Dave Feldman.
Mark Bomback has been hired to write the adaptation of Garth Stein’s novel The Art of Racing in the Rain for Universal Pictures. The story follows a family’s daily life as seen through the eyes of their dog. Patrick Dempsey is attached to star and will produce the project with Original Film’s Neal Moritz. Tania Landau and Joannie Burstein will serve as executive producers on the movie. Executive Vice President of Production Tracy Falco and development executive Tara Case will oversee the film’s development for Universal. Bomback’s previous writing credits include Live Free or Die Hard, Race to Witch Mountain, and Unstoppable. He is repped by WME and Anonymous Content.
In a preemptive deal, Warner Bros. has purchased feature rights to Kristine Barnett’s upcoming memoir Scattered Skills. The book will chronicle the story of a mother and her 12-year-old son Jacob, and his journey from autism to genius. Jacob’s first few years were spent in silence but then he took an interest in math and was able to recite the mathematical constant pi out to 70 digits at just three years old. He began attending college classes in Indiana at eight and has a math IQ of 170. Courtenay Valenti will oversee the project’s development for Warner Bros. UTA negotiated the deal on behalf of Barnett and her publishing agent Laurie Bernstein of Side by Side Literary Productions.
OTHER MOVIE DEALS
Mandate Pictures has optioned the screenplay The Young, the Hot, and the Bothered from writer Leah Rachel. The story is being described as a coming-of-age comedy about the delusion, desperation and euphoria of first loves. Dan Jinks will produce the film, and Mandate President Nathan Kahane will serve as an executive producer on the project. Anonymous Content’s Adam Kossack and Adam Shulman are set to co-produce the movie, and Mandate’s Nicole Brown will supervise. Rachel has Starf**ker in the works at HBO, with Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg executive producing, about a group of female friends establishing careers and finding romance in Los Angeles. She’s also writing a pilot for ABC titled BAMFS. Rachel is repped by WME and Anonymous Content.
Screen Gems has acquired the rights to a spooky student-made short titled Viral with plans of making it into a feature film. Tim Shechmeister, who recently graduated from UCLA’s film school, directed the short and co-wrote it with his brother MattShechmeister as part of a thesis project. The brothers will co-write the big-screen version and Tim will direct it. The 11-minute short is set in the world of cyber-bullying and includes supernatural elements. Professional scribe Stephen Susco (The Grudge) discovered the project at a screenwriting event last summer. He brought it to producer Roy Lee who, along with Lawrence Grey, took it to Screen Gems. The trio will now produce the feature film. John Middleton will serve as an executive producer on the movie. The Shechmeisters are repped by UTA.