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Paramount Scores Orci and Kurtzman Project

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 29, 2009 at 5:43AM

It's not surprising that new Paramount production head Adam Goodman took advantage of his DreamWorks insider status and nabbed a high-profile project, License to Steal, from the super-hot screenwriter-producing team Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. This buy of an overtly commercial Salon feature about globe-trotting Repo men chasing luxury planes and boats was pursued by several top directors and producers. It signals that an inside-Hollywood pro is back in charge, and the once-quiet studio is back in buying mode. When Paramount put into turnaround projects such as John Carter of Mars and Twilight , that sent another signal: the studio didn't recognize potential franchises.
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It's not surprising that new Paramount production head Adam Goodman took advantage of his DreamWorks insider status and nabbed a high-profile project, License to Steal, from the super-hot screenwriter-producing team Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. This buy of an overtly commercial Salon feature about globe-trotting Repo men chasing luxury planes and boats was pursued by several top directors and producers. It signals that an inside-Hollywood pro is back in charge, and the once-quiet studio is back in buying mode. When Paramount put into turnaround projects such as John Carter of Mars and Twilight , that sent another signal: the studio didn't recognize potential franchises.

When I interviewed Kurtzman and Orci on Star Trek's opening day (below), I knew they were sitting on three likely summer hits: they wrote Star Trek and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and executive-produced The Proposal. Now they've turned into bonafide summer smashes. Star Trek has grossed $246 million domestic and $368 worldwide. The Proposal is chugging along at $69 million domestically, while Transformers came pretty close to breaking The Dark Knight's $203 million five day record, despite execrable reviews (audiences liked it more than critics). Michael Bay talks to Michael Fleming about his opening night rituals.

Next for Orci and Kurtzman: Cowboys and Aliens and the Star Trek sequel, which is keeping them up at night. And Paramount wants another Transformers, Brad Grey tells Ben Fritz. Sooner rather than later. (Bay told me he wanted to take a breather with something else. We'll see.)


This article is related to: In Production, Studios, Genres, Franchises, Star Trek, Transformers, Action, Comics, Sci-fi, Paramount/Vantage/Insurge/CBS


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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.