Bay Jumps on Kidnap Thriller
NEW YORK — After completing photography on “Pearl Harbor,” Michael Bay’s Disney-based Bay Films has acquired an untitled thriller that Bay and Bay Films veep Jennifer Klein will develop, with hopes that Bay will direct.
The script by newcomer Stuart Alexander concerns the kidnapping of a high-powered attorney’s wife; the ransom for her safe release is his suicide.
The project was bought on the basis of a 25-page outline. Alexander has finished the first draft, with the film being supervised by Disney Motion Picture Group president Nina Jacobson and exec veep Mark Vahradian.
That film could be the next one Bay directs — another candidate is the dark comedy he’s developing, “Gory Details” — but he won’t likely take another feature before the possible SAG strike next summer. His next directing job will be the pilot of “Quantico,” a drama about the FBI Academy for Twentieth TV and FBC, which he’s exec producing with Dario Scardapane, who wrote the script. Klein’s producing as well.
Bay nearly made “Phone Booth,” the Fox 2000 drama with a similar ticking-clock premise. Joel Schumacher is still trying to pull that together.
Though scripter Larry Cohen told this column that Bay disconnected because he wanted to move the drama from its single phone booth location, the director denied it. “Will (Smith) and I were ready to go, taking $500,000 each and backend, but we wanted Fox to put more money in the script to make the words better and the studio wouldn’t. Every actor loved the idea, but if the words weren’t there, that film wouldn’t work.”
That Bay is making new deals under his Mouse pact indicates that there has been some healing of the bruised feelings from when Disney rescinded a “Pearl Harbor” greenlight and didn’t restore it until he and producer Jerry Bruckheimer waived their fees and cut other costs.
That duo agreed to work free until the pic covers its costs. “It was pretty discouraging at the beginning and became an emotional roller coaster,” said Bay. “It was greenlit, then ungreenlit, then greenlit again, meaning I had to hire, fire, then rehire the whole crew. The whole film had a recipe for disaster, with so many locations. We worked with 60-year-old aircrafts, with hundreds of extras in the water around ships with explosives everywhere. But it was the best production experience I ever had, and we finished one day over schedule.”
Bay said the studio allowed him $135 million with an extra $5 million cushion. “There are no hard feelings with the studio. I’m happy the movie got made. I would have been miserable if it hadn’t.” While Bay’s best known for hardware-heavy hits like “Armageddon” and “The Rock,” “Pearl Harbor” will broaden his range. “The thing I really like about the movie is it’s shot with an old-fashioned feel, and women are responding to the love story,” he said.
As Bay zeroes in on the next feature, one he’s now dubious about is the Eric Roth-scripted Jon Peters-produced WB pic “Africa,” about the exploits of Richard Leakey. Said Bay: “After tourists were hacked to death in Rwanda, my girlfriend said no way. I don’t want to rush into another big movie right now. I’d just like to finish this one, do a few commercials, and the pilot.” Alexander was repped by Carlos Goodman of Lichter, Grossman, Nichols & Adler.