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AFM Breaking News: Weinstein Co. Nabs Rights to Bekmambetov's Contest Movie "Apollo 18"

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 7, 2010 at 10:46AM

Attendance is down at the American Film Market, but there are still buyers and sellers there, among them the Weinstein Co., which is announcing a pre-buy on sci-fi thriller Apollo 18, a moon-travel movie written by Brian Miller, who won a screenwriting contest mounted by producer Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted), who has set Trevor Cawood to direct. Point is, many movies at AFM are wannabe projects that do not yet exist. Having a distributor in place helps to make a movie more bankable.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Attendance is down at the American Film Market, but there are still buyers and sellers there, among them the Weinstein Co., which is announcing a pre-buy on sci-fi thriller Apollo 18, a moon-travel movie written by Brian Miller, who won a screenwriting contest mounted by producer Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted), who has set Trevor Cawood to direct. Point is, many movies at AFM are wannabe projects that do not yet exist. Having a distributor in place helps to make a movie more bankable.

Bakmambetov landed The Weinstein Co. by wowing them at the AFM with some purported "lost footage" from Apollo 18’s Nixon-era secret moon mission, which reveals new life forms. We'll see if this one--like many other movies at AFM--ever gets made. It supposed to start filming in December, in a cinema verite style, like Paranormal Activity, Super 8 or Cloverfield, for a March 2011 release. Harvey Weinstein clearly wants to play Blair Witch-style games with this truth-or-fiction mystery:

“We first became aware of Timur after his 2004 film Night Watch. Recently he came to us with this never-before-seen footage, apparently of the Apollo 18 space mission, and, as filmmakers, we were absolutely compelled to bring it to the screen for audiences to judge for themselves.”

Bekmambetov launched a screenwriting contest this spring, and in July at the first film festival ever held in Kazakhstan, the Astana International Action Film Festival, flew in five finalists from the United States, France, Kazakhstan, and the UK. The American, Miller, won a cash prize and a development deal with Bekmambetov Projects Ltd. Bekmambetov and Michele Wolkoff, president of development for BPL, will produce the film.

Busy as ever, Bekmambetov is prepping producer Tim Burton's Abraham Lincon: Vampire Hunter, based on the Seth Grahame-Smith novel, for a June 2012 release, and has several other possible films in the hopper, including a remake of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, an American remake of his Russian production of Black Lightning and a film version of Moby Dick.

This article is related to: Festivals, Independents, In Production, Weinsteins


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.