Apocalypse wow: Sony buys costly disaster script
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Sony Pictures has picked up disaster-movie king Roland Emmerich's apocalyptic script "2012," one of the first big projects to hit the market since the three-month writers strike ended on February 12.
While a deal almost was assured, many studios quickly dropped out of the hunt. Some didn't like the story, describing it as a "Roland Emmerich greatest-hits package." Others balked at the price tag. The project comes with a $200 million budget.
The script blends the idea of the Mayan calendar, which predicts the world ending in 2012, with natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons and glaciers plaguing the planet and a large cast of characters dealing with the mayhem.
Emmerich, known for such films as "Independence Day" and "Godzilla," will direct the project from a script he co-wrote with Harald Kloser. Sony is planning a July 10, 2009, release.
Emmerich and Kloser collaborated on the prehistoric action movie "10,000 B.C.," which is generating strong buzz ahead of its March 7 release.
Even if "2012" comes in on budget, it will require success in the international marketplace to recoup costs. Emmerich demanded a $20 million advance against 25% of gross profits, payable before the studio gets anything, sources said.
Still, for certain studios looking to quickly fill their sparse 2009 release schedules with a tentpole, "2012" was what the doctor ordered.
Emmerich's most recent disaster film, 2004's "The Day After Tomorrow," was a smash for 20th Century Fox, bringing in more than $542 million at the worldwide box office, according to Box Office Mojo. It cost $140 million to make.
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