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Image635516746675144121Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) has picked up worldwide distribution rights to the Ghost House Pictures thriller “A Man in the Dark.”

The pic was directed by Fede Alvarez, who directed the “Evil Dead” remake.

Story follows a group of teens who break into a blind man’s home thinking they’ll get away with the perfect crime. They’re wrong.

Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert will produce for Ghost House with J.R. Young, Nathan Kahane and Joe Drake executive producing. Erin Westerman will oversee for the company.

The deal was negotiated by WME Global on behalf of Alvarez, Drake and Michael Meyer for Ghost House, and Jon Freedberg, Michael Helfand and Joe Matukewicz for SPWA.

“We’re thrilled to be in business again with the creative team behind ‘Evil Dead,’ and to back Fede on his next picture,” said Steve Bersch, SPWA President. “He and Rodo [Sayagues] have crafted a screenplay that keeps you on the edge of your seat and we look forward to bringing the movie to audiences worldwide.”

Alvarez has been a hot director around town following the success of the “Evil Dead” remake, which grossed 98 million worldwide. He is also attached to direct a sequel to that pic as well as “Dante’s Inferno.”

He is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Karl Austen







LOS ANGELES, CA (October 30, 2014) – Ghost House Pictures announced today that Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert will re-team with Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues on the writing duo’s thriller A MAN IN THE DARK.  Alvarez previously directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Sayagues on EVIL DEAD, the hit retelling of Raimi’s classic which grossed nearly $100 million in worldwide box office.

Alvarez is set to direct A MAN IN THE DARK, and Raimi and Tapert will produce for Ghost House.  J.R. Young, Nathan Kahane and Joe Drake will executive produce.  Erin Westerman will oversee for the company.  Good Universe will be launching international sales at the upcoming American Film Market. WME Global will be handling the North American sale.

In A MAN IN THE DARK, three teens who get away with perfectly planned home robberies have set their sights on one last payout that will get them out of crime forever.  Their target: a reclusive blind man with millions of dollars in hiding.  But as soon as they break into his home, the tables are turned and they find themselves trapped and fighting for survival against a psychopath with secrets of his own.

Alvarez is represented by WME, Anonymous Content and Karl Austen of Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein.  Sayagues is represented by WME and Anonymous Content.  Dan Freedman negotiated their deals on behalf of Ghost House Pictures.

One of the most successful partnerships in Hollywood, Ghost House Pictures is a leading horror thriller producer with seven #1 box office hits starting with Sony Pictures’ THE GRUDGE in 2004 and more recently Lionsgate’s THE POSSESSION in 2012 and Sony Pictures/FilmDistrict’s EVIL DEAD in 2013. Ghost House Pictures’ current slate includes POLTERGEIST, a revisionist take on the classic film, which is currently in post-production with MGM and Fox 2000 and slated for a July 2015 release. Ghost House Pictures was formed in 2002 by filmmakers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Nathan Kahane and Joe Drake to create a production label dedicated to the financing, development and release of films in the horror thriller space.





Rob Tapert to Produce "The Outpost"

Rob will be producing a new movie based on the novel "The Outpost" by Jake Tapper. Sam Raimi has also been confirmed as being on board to produce and possibly direct the movie. The script is being written by Paul Tamasy and Erin Johnson. Paul Merryman will co-produce.

You can read more about the Battle of Kamdesh here

Details of the book by Jake Tapper:

The heartbreaking and inspiring story of one of America's deadliest battles during the war in Afghanistan, acclaimed by critics everywhere as a classic. 

At 5:58 AM on October 3rd, 2009, Combat Outpost Keating, located in frighteningly vulnerable terrain in Afghanistan just 14 miles from the Pakistani border, was viciously attacked. Though the 53 Americans there prevailed against nearly 400 Taliban fighters, their casualties made it the deadliest fight of the war for the U.S. that year. Four months after the battle, a Pentagon review revealed that there was no reason for the troops at Keating to have been there in the first place.

In THE OUTPOST, Jake Tapper gives us the powerful saga of COP Keating, from its establishment to eventual destruction, introducing us to an unforgettable cast of soldiers and their families, and to a place and war that has remained profoundly distant to most Americans. A runaway bestseller, it makes a savage war real, and American courage manifest





Spartacus: The Complete Series on Blu-Ray and DVD set for release on 16 September. Thirteen-Disc Set Contains All 39 Episodes and New Bonus Features! Here's the press release and box art from Anchor Bay Entertainment!

June 17, 2014

“Pulse pounding entertainment.” – Huffington Post




Thirteen-Disc Set Contains All 39 Episodes and New Bonus Features!

Beverly Hills, CA – All hail Spartacus - his legend will live on! Anchor Bay Entertainment releases every season of the acclaimed Starz Original series in a complete muscular thirteen-disc Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ and DVD box set on September 16th. From executive producers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Josh Donen and Steven S. DeKnight, here is every moment - uncut and uncensored – of the series that broke all the rules and took no prisoners! “SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES” is a beautifully packaged collection that contains a full disc of new bonus features. The Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ edition contains three new audio commentaries for the first season that are exclusive to this collection. A limited edition Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ set packaged with a Spartacus collector’s figurine will also be available with an SRP of $199.99. SRP is $149.99 for the Blu-ray™ + Digital HD with Ultraviolet™ and $119.98 for the DVD. Pre-book is August 13th.


“SPARTACUS: THE COMPLETE SERIES” is the classic tale of Spartacus, the Republic’s most infamous rebel who comes alive in the first season of “Spartacus: Blood and Sand.” Then comes “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” the prequel that explores a deadly history before the arrival of Spartacus, and the death he now carries with him. The second season, “Spartacus: Vengeance,” continues to follow Spartacus as he is faced with a choice to either satisfy his personal need for vengeance, or make the sacrifices necessary to keep his growing army from breaking apart at the seams. Finally, in “Spartacus: War of the Damned,” Spartacus will carve his name into history as he plots to avenge his wife’s death and leads Batiatus' slaves in a bloody uprising that will not be forgotten or equaled.



“The gods finally bless us with the complete collection,” says creator and executive producer Steven S. DeKnight. “Spartacus was a true labor of love for everyone who worked on it and I’m incredibly proud to present all 39 episodes in stunning High-def for the fans to enjoy at their leisure, but make sure you watch them in the order they first aired to revel in the experience as originally intended.”

New Bonus Features:

  • SPARTACUS Fan Favorites With Liam McIntyre
  • Scoring A Hit: Composer Joseph LoDuca
  • An Eye Full: Roger Murray
  • SPARTACUS: Paul Grinder
  • The Last Word: John Hannah





ImageSyfy acquires US Basic cable rights to all 39 episodes of "spartacus" from starz worldwide distribution. Popular swords and sandals series makes basic cable premiere on syfy thursday, June 26 at 10pm

NEW YORK – May 22, 2014 – Continuing to expand its roster of diverse domestic and international programming, Syfy today announced it is acquiring U.S. basic cable rights to all 39 episodes (three seasons and the six-part prequel) of the popular swords and sandal series Spartacus from Starz Worldwide Distribution, the global television licensing and content syndication arm of Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA,STRZB).

Spartacus will make its basic cable premiere on Thursday, June 26 at 10PM (ET/PT), rounding out the channel’s potent primetime lineup of original series Defiance at 8PM and Dominion at 9PM.

Spartacus joins Syfy’s stable of acquisitions including Lost Girl, Bitten, Continuum and the upcoming The Almighty Johnsons (July), Z-Nation (Fall) and Olympus (2015).

Said Chris Regina, Senior Vice President, Programming, Syfy: “Our strategy of acquiring hit shows to complement our premium original scripted series has really resonated with our audience. With its action-soaked storylines and powerful characters, Spartacus will be a dynamic addition to our schedule.”

“Spartacus made an indelible impact on STARZ premium viewers in the United States and with audiences around the globe,” said Gene George, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Distribution for Starz. “We are very pleased to strike this accord and bring the incredible tale of Spartacus to Syfy for its viewers.”

About Spartacus
Spartacus was inspired by the actual slave of the Roman Republic who, in 73 BC, led a slave revolt that grew to more than 120,000 fighters. Defying the Roman Republic’s legions of soldiers, they campaigned for two years through much of what is now Italy before succumbing to a much larger army. The new series told a new set of stories rich in character, action, sex and combat centered on the title character. As punishment for defying a Roman Legate, Spartacus was sentenced to die in the gladiator arena. But after surviving numerous fights, his sentence was commuted and sold as a slave to be trained as a gladiator. Spartacus was executive produced by Rob Tapert (The Grudge, Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys), Steven S. DeKnight (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Sam Raimi (Spider-Man and The Evil Dead), and Joshua Donen (The Quick and the Dead). The lead and title character was originally played by the beloved late Andy Whitfield. Following Whitfield’s departure from the series in 2010, Liam McIntyre was recast as the title character.

Additional cast members included: Lucy Lawless (Xenia: Warrior Princess) as Lucretia, who along with her husband Batiatus (John Hannah), owned the slave Spartacus and the original gladiator camp; Erin Cummings (Dollhouse) as Sura, Spartacus’ wife; Peter Mensah (300, Avatar) as Doctore; Manu Bennett (30 Days of Night, The Condemned) as Crixus; Craig Parker (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Legend of the Seeker) as Glaber, Ilithyia (Accidents Happen), played by Viva Bianca; Nick E. Tarabay (Crash, The Sopranos) as Ashur, Dustin Clare (Underbelly, Satisfaction) as Gannicus; and Todd Lasance as Gaius Julius Caesar.

About Starz Worldwide Distribution

Starz Worldwide Distribution ( is a leading global distributor of movies, television series, documentaries, children’s programming, and other video content. Starz Worldwide Distribution licenses and syndicates STARZ Original series and other owned and licensed third party programming on a worldwide basis. Starz Worldwide Distribution’s partnerships with independent producers provide high-quality and diverse programming to its clients, while its experience in the field distinguishes it as a premier supplier in the global content marketplace. Starz Worldwide Distribution is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business,

About Syfy
Syfy is a media destination for imagination-based entertainment. With year round acclaimed original series, events, blockbuster movies, classic science fiction and fantasy programming, a dynamic Web site (, and a portfolio of adjacent business (Syfy Ventures), Syfy is a passport to limitless possibilities. Originally launched in 1992 as SCI FI Channel, and currently in 96 million homes, Syfy is a network of NBCUniversal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.(Syfy. Imagine Greater.)





Ghost House Pictures To Relaunch The Grudge

Image635322136858807336The Grudge, the 2004 film is getting a reboot. Ghost House Pictures and Good Universe will relaunch the franchise with Jeff Buhler set to draft the reboot.

The original starred Sarah Michelle Gellar and was based on the Japanese horror thriller Ju-On by Shimizu.

The new one will be produced by Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi and Taka Ichise, with executive producers: Roy Lee, Doug Davison, Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane.

The Grudge is about an American nurse living and working in Tokyo is exposed to a mysterious supernatural curse, one that locks a person in a powerful rage before claiming their life and spreading to another victim.





Day of the Triffids Movie Update: Mike Newell to Direct

Image635261900509773616It has been announced that Mike Newell has been selected to direct “The Day of the Triffids”. The movie is an adaptation of the classic sci-fi book by John Wyndham.

The Day of the Triffids is a 1951 post-apocalyptic novel about a plague of blindness which befalls the entire world, allowing the rise of an aggressive species of plant. It was written by the English science fiction author John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, under the pen name John Wyndham. Script is by Neil Cross for Ghost House Pictures

The film’s being produced by Ghost House, Mark Gordon, Don Murphy, and Michael Preger, and Murphy’s Angry Films partner Susan Montford will be executive producer.

The story has been made into the 1962 feature film of the same name, three radio drama series in 1957, 1968 and 2008, and two TV series in 1981 and 2009. In 2003 the novel was listed on the BBC's survey The Big Read.





Image635171112936021436 The Hollywood Reporter magazine (issue 18 Oct 2013) has a great interview with Rob, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell on the filming of Evil Dead 2 in 1987.

Schlocky? Check. Scary? Very. But Sam Raimi's 1987 film had a sense of humor never before seen in the genre that set the director, then 27 and in "filmmaker's jail" with his collective, onto an A-list trajectory. Star Bruce Campbell, writer Scott Spiegel, producer Rob Tapert and more reveal the backstory of how their desperation forged a cult classic.

A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Before Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II opened in 1987, horror movies had one objective: to scare audiences. But when Raimi and his filmmaking collective -- actor Bruce Campbell, writer Scott Spiegel and producer Rob Tapert -- decided to remake their 1983 debut, The Evil Dead, they added the kind of Three Stooges-esque humor that informed the Super 8 shorts they shot together growing up in the suburbs of Detroit. Thanks to that injection of slapstick, Evil Dead II -- about a guy (Campbell) visiting a cabin in the woods that's besieged by demons -- became a horror classic and set Raimi on the road to eventually directing Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man films. And it all started because they were desperate for work.

Read Full Interview





Image635141471549118275Int’l TV shoots and local indies, boosted by gov’t funds, help ignite country’s biz

New Zealand may be one of the top territories successfully luring big-budget productions, but the rest of its film and TV sector is firing on all cylinders as well.

For the first time, the industry’s earnings have broken the NZ$3 billion ($2.34 billion) barrier, rising by 10% in 2012. This was driven by a 47% increase in feature film revenue and the post-production biz saw a 31% boost year-on-year. James Cameron, with his “Avatar” pics, is reportedly relocating to the outskirts of Wellington, while Jane Campion’s miniseries “Top of the Lake” shot in New Zealand.

Those numbers speak to the depth of crew in the country.

Outgoing New Zealand Film Commission CEO Graeme Mason (who leaves to head up Screen Australia in November) notes that while Peter Jackson’s success has helped create a world-class infrastructure — including Weta Digital and Workshop, which have worked on many of the top blockbusters over the past few years including “Iron Man” and “The Avengers” — there’s more to the country’s production sector.

“Rob Tapert has been an incredible force, making ‘Hercules,’ ‘Xena’ and ‘Spartacus’ fixtures here for years,” says Mason.

The country’s Toronto-bound pics also point to the broad range of projects coming out of New Zealand.

“Beyond the Edge” is a 3D pic about Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s 1953 ascent of Mt. Everest. Pic was filmed on location in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the Himalayas and Mt. Everest, and post-production was undertaken in Auckland by Digital Post. Altitude Film Entertainment reps international sales.

Then there’s local medicine-woman drama “White Lies,” produced by “Whale Rider’s” John Barnett and penned and helmed by Dana Rotberg, as well as performance pic “Giselle,” toplining Gillian Murphy, the prima ballerina with the American Theatre Ballet.

With an annual budget of around $15.5 million — a mix of government and lottery funding — the New Zealand Film Commission is responsible for plowing coin into feature pics, developing local talent and administering the Large Budget Screen Production Grant (a 15% grant on qualifying expenditure), the Post Digital and Visual Effects Grant (15% cash award) and the Screen Production Incentive Fund (40% cash grant of qualifying expenditure).






Past our Peak
NZ Herald 31 August 2013

Just as a new movie about Sir Edmund Hillary heads to the world stage, the Auckland film industry is being starved of oxygen

Visual effects company Digipost should now be readying itself for the parties, praise and political hangers-on that come with any substantial film launch, the culmination of a great creative collaboration.

Its work on Beyond the Edge, the Hillary-conquest-of-Everest film that premieres at the Toronto Film Festival next week, is already earning accolades (feedback from the critics' preview this week has only heightened the excitement).

"It's the first stereoscopic 3D movie made in New Zealand," says proud managing director Garry Little.

Instead, the post-production company - whose recent work includes Spartacus, Evil Dead and 30 Days of Night - is wondering where its next big project will come from.

Twenty-four hours after hearing of the Toronto critics' 3.5 stars out of 4 verdict, Little said goodbye to a senior visual effects artist he brought out from Britain five years ago. The high-tech effects whiz has headed back to the booming UK film industry to find work while his wife and young child remain in Auckland.

"The lack of confirmed future international projects has forced the company to break up its highly skilled permanent workforce assembled over 23 years," Little told the Weekend Herald. Most are looking for work to tide them over. The risk is that when business picks up again, they may no longer be around, he says.

The company has employed up to 40 staff, as well as freelancers to help through peaks. While there's commercials and low-budget NZ film and television work to bid for, it's what's known as international service work that has allowed Auckland's screen production sector to flourish over the past 20 years, Little says.

"The politicians are quick to jump on the bandwagon of feature films but this Government just doesn't seem to have a vision for the future of the industry."

While Wellywood has deservedly drawn the spotlight for its blockbuster feature films, Auckland's less-glamorous television-focused activity is the industry's engine room in terms of jobs and revenue generation. About 4,000 are currently employed directly and, despite, the sudden descent from the heights, the industry still pumps $2.2 billion into the local economy, the benefits of a big production flowing as far as caterers and vehicle-hire firms.

Spartacus, which ended last October, was the last in a steady stream of long-run TV series and movies, leaving Nickelodeon's Power Rangers as the biggest single source of work. Whether it returns for another season in Auckland (the last finished in May) is now in doubt.

Distance, the high exchange rate and a shortage of suitable studio spaces are cited as factors in Hollywood "runaway" productions bypassing Auckland. But most agree the biggest factor is that NZ has failed to keep up in the game of incentives - grants and rebates Governments use to attract major productions, confident that the money will be repaid many times over.

NZ's principal grant for large-budget productions was raised to 15 per cent in 2007 and has stayed there ever since. But rivals, including Australia, South Africa, Canada and Britain, have raised their incentives. The UK boosted its grant for TV productions to 25 per cent, as did some Canadian and US states.

A Government review of our large-budget grant scheme began nearly two years ago. Last November, Prime Minister John Key's visit to Hollywood heightened expectations of a boost for the industry, which ticks all the right boxes for an economy desperate to diversify into high-value, high-tech industries and grow its skills base.

The review's outcome last month shattered such hopes. Rejecting industry advice (including from Film NZ) to raise the grant to 20 per cent, the review held the rebate at 15 per cent, instead lowering the threshold budget level to allow lower-budget productions to qualify. These typically do not require the same inputs of expertise and equipment as the large-budget work around which the Auckland industry has developed.

The decision has prompted fevered lobbying and meetings with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce - not expecting a backdown but seeking interim measures to help the industry to "transition". While indicating there are other ways the Government can help, Joyce has ruled out more money and batted the idea of raising the grant towards the Auckland Council.

Industry leaders are scathing of the review underpinning the decision. Led by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment with significant Treasury input, it estimated the net economic benefit of the incentive to be "in a range of plus $56.3 million to minus $29 million, at a midpoint of $13.6 million".

The true figure is way higher, representatives argue. "The Government made decisions with facts that were out of date and it was too little too late," says Pete Rive, chairman of the Film Auckland advisory board.

They cite the impact of Spartacus, which over four years attracted grants of $30 million and returned $170 million to the economy in wages, post-production work, equipment hire, leases, accommodation, travel and legal fees. Spartacus was the most recent in a string of long-run TV series brought here by Hollywood producer Rob Tapert, husband of Lucy Lawless. The series, which began with Hercules in 1994, is credited with pumping $800 million into the local industry.

Joyce says the Government was wary of entering a "race to the bottom". The scheme since 2004 has supported 35 major films or TV productions that got $267 million in rebates for qualifying expenditure of nearly $2 billion. The biggest recipient was Sir Peter Jackson's King Kong, which got $48.6 million to offset production costs of $389 million.

The review document admits to having only a limited picture of how many jobs the industry is responsible for. Worse, say critics, it avoided using a "multiplier" to measure indirect and flow-on benefits to the economy.

Pieter Holl, tax adviser to the industry, contrasts the NZ approach to that in the UK, where the multiplier effect influenced the decision to raise its incentive to 25 per cent for television productions. "Productions that are filmed here are paying the cast and crew but they are also paying other suppliers," says Holl. "And they haven't taken into account the tax paid by other businesses." He believes the review also under-estimates the tax benefits. "I did a conservative calculation and came up with another $50 million."

Grant Baker of post-production firm Images and Sound suspects the public backlash over Key's change to employment laws to satisfy Warner Bros' demands for The Hobbit may have clouded Government thinking. Baker says the Treasury was clearly wary of the open-ended potential of the grant, the report noting that $121 million was paid out in 2010/11. He says the challenge now is for the industry to adjust. "Everyone is desperately hoping another Spartacus will come along. It's less and less likely.

"Auckland has built up a really good reputation internationally and a lot of expertise. The worry is if we lose the capability and manage to win a show in six months' time, there won't be enough skilled people to make it work."

StudioWest co-owner David Rowell, a film production accountant, says raising the rebate by even 5 percentage points would have helped considerably. "In the US, they go to where the bottom line is. You look at projects being done around the world that could be done here and we are just not on the radar."

Without a competitive incentive scheme, the big productions won't be coming back - leaving those who have borrowed heavily to build capability in the lurch.

"I think the Government's really got it wrong here. I think their outcome was pre-determined - there are clear flaws and misinterpretations and parts of it all also very dated."

Prominent producer Chloe Smith says the work that came here because of the grant, launched in 2003, encouraged the development of the industry in Auckland. "We were challenged by an incentive to grow."

She says the current crisis suggests the sector has failed to promote its significance or to communicate well and needs to look at its leadership.

Others point to Film NZ's apparent failure to promote the capabilities of the Auckland-based industry to foreign production houses.

Producer Murray Francis agrees the industry is in crisis but disagrees that incentives are the sole cause. "We just need some infrastructure. People want to come here but they don't want to go to a tin roof warehouse - they want a big shed that looks like a studio."

Contacted in Los Angeles, Tapert says times are tough generally and he can understand the Government not wanting to go further. He supports the idea of more regional support, as happens with state Governments in Australia and Canada. Auckland also needs to improve its studio spaces "but I'm not sure the Government should be building stages".

Felicity Letcher of leading props and prosthetics maker Main Reactor says the industry knew a downturn was approaching as Spartacus wound up but the drawn-out review worsened the crisis.

"We are not asking for special treatment - we're asking to be able to play in the global marketplace.

"It just feels like we built up this momentum and this great skill base and now we are just unable to be in it.

"People think we are handing money to giant studios and they are making money. It's not about that - they come here with their budget and they spend it all here. A lot of countries clearly see the benefit."