Legendary & dj2 Entertainment to Develop Series Set in L. Frank Baum’s Oz Universe From ‘Now You See Me’ Writer (EXCLUSIVE)

Legendary Entertainment is developing a TV series set in the Land of Oz from the novels by L. Frank Baum, Variety has learned exclusively.

The untitled series hails from Ed Ricourt, who will write and produce. The series will examine stories and characters in Oz that haven’t been previously explored. When the return of a long-exiled Witch brings fear, division and war to Oz, the only hope is a servant girl who may become the most powerful and dangerous woman in the land.

Dmitri M. Johnson & Stephan Bugaj of dj2 Entertainment will executive produce. Legendary is said to be near a deal for a director on the project.

“I’m thrilled to partner with Legendary TV and dj2 to adapt my take on Baum’s rich, complex OZ book series which has influenced me creatively since childhood,” said Ricourt.

Ricourt previously co-wrote the story and screenplay for the hit 2013 film “Now You See Me,” with the sequel premiering in 2016. His other credits include “Wayward Pines” and “Jessica Jones.” His feature script, “Year 12,” was featured on the 2009 Black List. Ricourt is also a writer and producer on the upcoming Netflix series “Raising Dion” and worked on the upcoming reboot of “The Twilight Zone” at CBS All Access.

He is repped by Verve, and Lit Entertainment.

dj2’s slate currently includes upcoming “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie due out later this year and the series adaptation of the video game “Vampyr” with Fox 21 and McG’s Wonderland production banner. The company is also producing live-action adaptations of the games “Sleeping Dogs” with Donnie Yen and “Echo” with F. Gary Gray’s Fenix Studios. The company is repped by APA and Bloom Hergott.

F. Gary Gray’s Fenix Studios Options ‘Echo’ Video Game For Movie, To Be Penned By ‘John Wick’s Derek Kolstad

EXCLUSIVE: F. Gary Gray’s Fenix Studios has optioned rights to Echo, the third-person sci-fi video game, with the Straight Outta Compton and Men In Black: International helmer planning to turn it into a feature film. John Wick creator-writer Derek Kolstad is aboard to adapt the screenplay.

Gray will produce the movie as part of Fenix Studios’ production and development deal with Starlight Culture Entertainment Group. Fenix will produce alongside Dmitri M. Johnson and Stephan Bugaj of dj2 Entertainment (Sonic the Hedgehog). Gary Glushon brought the project in and will oversee for Fenix.

Echo, an action-thriller developed and published by Copenhagen-based Ultra Ultra, follows the character En as she arrives at a vast and mysterious palace hidden in the depths of space. The palace creates copies, called Echoes, that study her and use her own actions against her. (Check out the game trailer below for an idea.)

Kolstad recently adapted for New Line the 2010 South Korean actioner The Man from Nowhere. Meanwhile, he penned John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum hits theaters May 17 via Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment.

Gray is now in post on MIB: International, the Sony franchise reboot starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Liam Neeson. It has a June 14 release date.

With Sonic the Hedgehog in post, dj2 Entertainment is adapting two other games to films: Focus/Dontnod’s Vampyr, with Fox 21 and McG’s Wonderland, and Square Enix’s Sleeping Dogs with Donnie Yen.

Gray is repped by UTA, Artists First and Nina Shaw. Kolstad is repped by APA, Circle of Confusion and Behr Abramson Levy. APA also represents dj2 Entertainment and the video game.

Dontnod Action-RPG ‘Vampyr’ Is Getting Its Own TV Show

Production company Fox21 acquired the rights to Dontnod Entertainment’s action role-playing game “Vampyr” and it’s adapting it for television, it announced on Friday.

Wonderland Sound & Vision and DJ2 Entertainment will work on the show. DJ2 is also executive producer of the TV adaptation of Dontnod’s episodic adventure game “Life is Strange.”

Vampyr” launched on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on Jun.5 to mixed reviews, yet sold about 450,000 copies across all platforms n the first month. It tells the story of doctor-turned-vampire Jonathan Reid in 1918 London. The city has been devastated by the Great War, citizens are suffering from the Spanish Flu, and Dr. Reid searches for a cure while struggling with his darker nature.

“We believe it is a fantastic premise for a television show,” said Dontnod CEO Oskar Guilbert. “This is a new and exciting way for fans of the game, as well as the uninitiated, to enter and engage with ‘Vampyr’s’ rich, deep story. We cannot wait to see how the talented team at Fox21 will bring out the darkly atmospheric universe of our game into television.”

“The DJ2 team loves the creative vision Dontnod and [publisher Focus Home Interactive] devote to all of their projects,” said DJ2 CEO Dmitri Johnson. “The great relationship we’ve built with them since partnering on their incredible game, ‘Life is Strange,’ allowed us to get on board for ‘Vampyr’ well before its release. Like them, we’re excited to collaborate with our friends at Fox21, Wonderland, and the rest of the creative team we’re assembling.”

‘Vampyr’ Video Game Optioned For Series Development By Fox 21 TV Studios, dj2 Entertainment & McG’s Wonderland

In a competitive situation, Fox 21 Television Studios has optioned the rights to video game Vampyr to develop as a series with McG’s Wonderland Sound & Vision and DJ2 Entertainment.

Set in 1918 London, Vampyr revolves around a morally righteous doctor who mysteriously turns into a vampire and is now torn between his solemn commitment to save lives and his insatiable urge to feed. With a deadly virus spreading that only he can cure, the doctor must decide who to kill in his tight-knit community to stay alive long enough to save everyone from certain death.

McG is attached to direct and executive produce with Wonderland’s Mary Viola and Corey Marsh and DJ2’s Dmitri Johnson and Stephan Bugaj.

The game, developed by France’s Dontnod Entertainment (Life Is Strange) and published by Focus Home Interactive, launched on June 5 on all major platforms. The game sold more 450,000 in its first month, opening at No. 1 in the U.S. and several European countries.

DJ2 is repped by APA and Bloom Hergott. Wonderland Sound & Vision is repped by WME and Management 360.

Jim Carrey in Talks to Play Villain Dr Robotnik in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’

Jim Carrey is in talks to play villain Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik in Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog,” an individual with knowledge of the project tells TheWrap.

The video game adaptation based on the hit Sega game also stars James Marsden and Tika Sumpter.

Neal H. Moritz, who recently signed an upcoming first-look deal with Paramount, is producing under his Original Film banner. “Deadpool” director Tim Miller will serve as executive producer along with Toby Ascher. Dmitri Johnson and Dan Jevons will serve as co-producers.

Jeff Fowler will make his feature directing debut on the film. Fowler is a longtime collaborator with Miller at the latter’s production studio, Blur Studio. Fowler previously wrote and directed the 2005 Academy Award-nominated best animated short “Gopher Broke,” which Miller executive produced.

First launched in 1991, “Sonic the Hedgehog” games have sold more than 360 million copies, including packaged and digital games, on various platforms. Sonic has been featured in several animated TV series, and appeared briefly in Disney’s 2012 film “Wreck-It Ralph.”

The “Sonic” film — which will be a combination of live action and CGI animation — will be the first time Sonic has ever been adapted for the big screen.

Carrey is repped by WME and attorney Deborah Klein.

VARIETY - Tika Sumpter Lands Female Lead in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Movie

“Ride Along” star Tika Sumpter is in negotiations to star opposite James Marsden in Paramount’s live-action/animation hybrid movie “Sonic the Hedgehog,” an adaptation of the classic video game, sources tell Variety.

The studio landed the film rights in 2017 and tapped Jeff Fowler to direct.

Neal H. Moritz, who recently signed a first-look deal with Paramount, is producing under his Original Film banner. “Deadpool” director Tim Miller will serve as executive producer, along with Toby Ascher. Dmitri Johnson and Dan Jevons will co-produce.

Sega launched the “Sonic” game in 1991 and has sold more than 360 million copies to date, including both packaged and digital games on consoles, tablets, and mobile.

The game features a hedgehog named Sonic on a quest to defeat Doctor Robotnik, a scientist who has imprisoned animals in robots and stolen magical Chaos Emeralds.

The movie is set to bow on Nov. 15, 2019. The film marks the first time that Sonic has ever been adapted for the big screen.

Sumpter, who is coming off the hit OWN and Tyler Perry show “The Haves and the Have Nots,” has started to nab roles on the big screen. She can next be seen in “The Old Man and the Gun,” and also has a role in Perry’s next directing gig, “The List,” opposite Tiffany Haddish.

She is repped by WME and Brookside Artist Management.

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER - James Marsden to Star in 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Movie

The film based on the SEGA character is set to hit theaters Nov. 15, 2019.

James Marsden is ready to put on his running shoes.

The Westworld actor is set to star in Sonic the Hedgehog, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Paramount's upcoming film based on the classic SEGA video game character will use a mix of live action and CGI. Sonic will be helmed by first-time feature director Jeff Fowler, who is known for the 2005 Oscar-nominated short Gopher Broke.

Marsden rose to mainstream prominence with the role of Scott Summers/Cyclops in 2000's X-Men and its sequels, and currently stars as Teddy Flood on the HBO sci-fi hit Westworld. The actor is repped by CAA and Authentic Talent and Literary Management.

Neal H. Moritz is producing the Sonic film, with Deadpool director Tim Miller executive producing, along with Toby Ascher. Dmitri Johnson and Dan Jevons will serve as co-producers. Patrick Casey and Josh Miller wrote the first draft of Sonic, and Oren Uziel wrote the most recent draft.

SEGA introduced Sonic in 1991, with the speedy hedgehog meant to rival Nintendo's Mario. The cast of characters in the games include Tails and Knuckles, as well as chief villain Doctor Eggman Robotnik. Sonicgames have sold more than 360 million copies during the character's history.

The pic is set to open Nov. 15, 2019.

DEADLINE - ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ Movie Zips Toward November 2019 Release

Set to stoke any child from the 1990s, Paramount has set its Neal H. Moritz-produced Sonic the Hedgehog feature for Nov. 15, 2019.

The feature adaptation of the hit Sega video game is directed by Jeff Fowler and executive produced by Tim Miller. It’s a combination of CGI characters and live action. Pat Casey & Josh Miller wrote the script for Sonic the Hedgehog (Golan, The Insatiable) and they’re repped by APA, The Gotham Group and Nelson Davis Wetzstein. They originally wrote Sonic for Sony, but then Paramount took the project had the duo do the polish. DJ2 Entertainment is also producing, and they’re repped by APA and Bloom Hergott.

Sonic the Hedgehog has spanned several iterations from Sega consoles in the 1990s to mobile fan and absorption into the Nintendo Mario Brothers video game universe. The series had sold over 80 million physical copies of games and over 350 million units across packaged software and mobile downloads. Sonic has also spawned five TV series in its history.

The only other release on Nov. 15, 2019 is the New Line/Warner Bros. comedy musical Margie Claus starring Melissa McCarthy and written by Ben Falcone and Damon Jones.


HOLLYWOOD REPORTER - 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Movie Sets 2019 Release Date

The film based on the SEGA character hits theaters Nov. 15, 2019.

Sonic the Hedgehog will be racing into theaters next year.

The Paramount film, based on the popular SEGA videogame character, will open Nov. 15, 2019.

Neal H. Moritz is producing the project, with Deadpool director Tim Miller executive producing. Also executive producing is Toby Ascher, while Dmitri Johnson and Dan Jevons will serve as co-producers.

Sonic will be directed by Jeff Fowler, who is making his directorial debut with the project. Paramount is planning a mix of live action and CGI to bring the character to life. 

SEGA first introduced Sonic in 1991, with the character being seen as the company's answer to rival Nintendo's leading man Mario. Sonic, along with friends Tails and Knuckles, likes to spend his time running around, collecting rings — while also thwarting the evil plans of villain Doctor Eggman Robotnik. The videogame series has sold more than 360 million copies on various platforms over the years.

Fowler is known for directing the 2005 Oscar-nominated short Gopher Broke, which Miller exec produced.

DEADLINE - Europacorp TV Studios Options ‘Ruiner’ Video Game; DJ2 To Produce

Europacorp has made a pre-emptive move to acquire TV rights to Ruiner, a new video game title from Devolver Digital and Reikon Games. DJ2 Entertainment co-founder and CEO Dmitri M. Johnson, whose company discovered the game and partnered with Luc Besson’s Europacorp shortly after its September release, is executive producing along Besson and with DJ2’s Stephan Bugaj. 

Described as John Wick meets The Matrix, Ruiner is a cyberpunk action game set in a world where a brutal corporation harvests human emotions from the poor to sell to the rich. It hero is a man with a deadly set of skills and a hackable neural implant chip who must break free from corporate control to save his brother from being harvested – a mission that puts him on a fatal collision course with a very powerful enemy. Watch a trailer for Ruiner below.

EuropaCorp is starting to approach writers and directors and plans to take the project out in 2018.

DJ2 Entertainment recently sold video game rights for narrative adaptations to Paramount (Sonic the Hedgehog), Hulu (Life Is Strange), the Russo Brothers Studio (Little Nightmares), Gold Circle (We Happy Few) and Original Film (Sleeping Dogs). Europacorp is in production on Season 2 of Taken and coming off the sci-fi actioner Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

The deal for Ruiner was represented and brokered by APA and Bloom Hergott.

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER - 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Movie Races to Paramount

Paramount Pictures has nabbed the movie rights to Sonic the Hedgehog, the popular SEGA video game franchise.

Neal H. Moritz, whose Original Film banner recently signed an upcoming first look deal with Paramount, will produce the project, which is coming to the studio after Sony Entertainment put it into turnaround.

Much of the team that was developing it at Sony remains: In addition to Moritz, Deadpool director Tim Miller is executive producing, while his longtime Blur Studio collaborator Jeff Fowler will make his feature directorial debut on the film. Also executive producing is Toby Ascher, while Dmitri Johnson and Dan Jevons will serve as co-producers.

Sonic the Hedgehog centers on Sonic and his friends, such as Tails and Knuckles, who run around collecting items and points as they attempt to foil the global domination plans of Doctor Eggman Robotnik. The game was first released by SEGA in 1991, with the character becoming one of the world’s biggest gaming icons. More than 360 million copies, including both packaged and digital games, have been sold on various platforms.

Paramount plans on making a movie that will blend live action and CGI animation as it brings Sonic to the big screen for the first time.

Fowler previously wrote and directed the animal-centric Gopher Broke, the 2005 Academy Award-nominated animated short that Miller executive produced.

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER - DJ2 entertainment& the Russo Brothers Adapting Video Game 'Little Nightmares' for TV

Anthony and Joe Russo, the filmmaking duo behind Captain America: Civil War andWinter Soldier, are teaming with A Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick to bring the horror-adventure video game Little Nightmares to the small screen.

The Russo brothers will develop and executive produce the television series with Dmitri M. Johnson and Stephan Bugaj of DJ2 Entertainment, the company making a name for itself adapting video games such as Life Is Strange and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Selick will helm the pilot and possibly other episodes. 

The Little Nightmares game follows a 9-year-old girl named Six who finds herself trapped on the bottom of a terror-filled ship named the Maw. With hunger and the depths one goes to satiate that hunger as the themes, the storyline follows Six as she tries to escape from the ship while evading capture and death at the hands of characters named the Janitor, the Twin Chefs and the Lady.

Dan Jevons will act as a producer, while Samuel Gatte will executive produce for Bandai-Namco. Russo company exec Mike Larocca will act as co-executive producer.

DJ2 discovered the game while it was still being worked on by Tarsier Studios, then partnered with Bandai-Namco ahead of the game’s very recent release in April. The Russos acquired the TV rights in a competitive situation.

The brothers — who via their yet-to-be-named company are developing projects for various media — recently partnered with Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, the team behind indie breakout Swiss Army Man,on an original sci-fi movie venture. The Russos are in postproduction on the mega Marvel productionAvengers: Infinity War, which is slated for a May 4, 2018, release.

Selick is the Academy Award-nominated director behind not only the classic Nightmare Before Christmas but also 2009's Coraline and 1996's James and the Giant Peach.

VARIETY - ‘We Happy Few’ Videogame Getting Movie Adaptation

A movie based on the videogame “We Happy Few” is in the works with “Pitch Perfect” producer Gold Circle Entertainment, Variety has learned exclusively.

Videogame developer Compulsion Games has partnered with dj2 Entertainment on the project. Gold Circle’s Paul Brooks and dj2 Entertainment CEO Dmitri M. Johnson and Chief Content Officer Dan Jevons will produce the project with dj2’s Stephan Bugaj serving as executive producer. 

“We Happy Few” is set in an eerie and isolated English town during an alternate-1960s, where the government has imposed a drug-induced happiness to mask gruesome violence and conceal a nefarious mystery. The story revolves around one rebellious resident illegally free of the drug’s effects, who risks his life to learn why his home is a bizarre open-air prison. 

Howard Bliss, head of business affairs at dj2 Entertainment, helped land the project at Gold Circle, and the two companies are seeking writers.

“Dmitri, Stephan, and Dan approached us enthusiastically with really solid ideas about how to adapt our game to film while retaining its menace, dark humor, and central themes,” said Guillaume Provost, head developer at Compulsion Games.

“Our commitment is to make a movie that remains true to the source material, while still surprising fans,” Johnson said.

Gold Circle is the producer on the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Pitch Perfect” franchises. Gold Circle is currently in production on “Pitch Perfect 3” with Brownstone Pictures and Universal, and the indie pic “Break My Heart 1,000 Times.”

Dj2 is also producing the Donnie Yen-starrer “Sleeping Dogs” with Original Film, as well as co-producing the “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie.

Felker Toczek Gellman Suddleson represent dj2 and Compulsion Games. Dj2 is also repped by APA.

DEADLINE - Donnie Yen To Headline ‘Sleeping Dogs’ For dj2 entertainment & Original Film

Who best to start a new IP for Neal Moritz’s Original Film (Fast and Furious) than the Ip Man himself? Martial artist Donnie Yen is set to star in a new feature from Moritz entitled Sleeping Dogs, which is based on the top-selling video game by Square Enix.

Yen, who recently co-starred in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and xXx: Return of Xander Cage, follows an undercover police officer (Yen) on a mission to take down one of the most powerful and dangerous criminal organizations in the world: the notorious Triads. The movie based on an action video game is set in Hong Kong and focuses on martial arts fighting, racing, boat chases … and shooting while doing all of that.

Yen, a Chinese martial artist, has long been a fight choreographer and is probably best known to audiences as the star —  and Wing Chun grandmaster — of the Ip Manfranchise. Original Film is producing with DJ2 Entertainment, specifically producers will be Moritz, Dmitri Johnson and Dan Jevons with Toby Ascher and Stephan Bugaj executive producing. DJ2 is currently co-producing the upcoming live-action/CG feature Sonic the Hedgehog for Sony.

Yen is beloved in China. About a month before xXx: Return of Xander Cage bowed in the country, Paramount put Yen front and center in marketing for the film to appeal to local audiences and to drive ticket sales on local Chinese websites. We’re told that Gewara, Wepiao, Maoyan and Sina Weibo Ticketing sites in China carried an image prominently displaying Yen and upstaging Diesel. Both the Paramount image and the local image to drive Chinese audiences into theaters are both shown with this story.

The concentration on Yen certainly paid off. The film won the 2nd  biggest Imax February debut ever in China, behind only the 2014 film and local sensation The Monkey King 2.

The third of Ip Man did tremendous business — $124M in China — last year.

CAA, which represents Yen, is packaging the film and in discussions with multiple financiers. Bugaij and DJ2 Entertainment is repped by APA.

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER - DJ2 and Legendary Tackling Adaptation of 'Life Is Strange'


Legendary Digital Studios and Square Enix have joined forces to adapt the award-winning video game, Life Is Strange.

The project will be developed and produced in conjunction with Dmitri Johnson and Dan Jevons of dj2 Entertainment. The latter produced the animated series Skulls of the Shogun for Legendary-owned Nerdist Industries, as well as the upcoming film Sonic the Hedgehog for Sony Pictures.

The video game is episodic in nature and follows the story of photography enthusiast Max Caulfield, a high-school senior who discovers she can rewind time while saving her best friend Chloe Price. The pair soon find themselves investigating the mysterious disappearance of fellow student Rachel Amber, which uncovers a dark side to life in their town, Arcadia Bay.

In addition to winning the BAFTA for best story, the Peabody Award, the Golden Joystick's Performance of the Year and the Game Awards Games for Impact Award, Life Is Strange has garnered over 75 Game of the Year awards and listings.

The game was brought into Legendary by Cory Lanier, who will oversee the project with Greg Siegel, senior vp development and production for Legendary Digital Studios.

Life is Strange really differs from what people think of gaming,” said Siegel. “Because there’s such a focus on character, there’s an emotional connection to the story that doesn’t happen with other games.”

Strange appealed to Legendary because it was anchored in the real world, with a high-school setting, and dealt with the idea of consequences to one’s actions. Those, combined with a female lead, resonated with execs.  

A search for a writer and director will get underway shortly.

Legendary Digital Studios recently produced Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, a modern reboot of the 1970s series from Sid and Marty Krofft, Dead Rising for Crackle and The Thinning.