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Production Watch, Part 2: De Palma's Passion, Untouchables; Jay-Z & Willow Smith's Annie Confirmed

by Sophia Savage
January 27, 2011 11:39 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood


- Brian De Palma is stepping out to direct a remake of France's 2010 psychodrama Crime d'amour (Love Crime), with the title Passion. "Not since Dressed to Kill have I had a chance to combine eroticism, suspense, mystery and murder into one spellbinding cinematic experience," De Palma told Variety. Set in the UK, the France-Germany-UK-Spain co-production is in the works at Paris-based SBS Productions (they also have Polanski's Gods of Carnage in the works with Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly). Productions like this are moving away from U.S. financing due to the limitations of the U.S. market, according to SBS's Ben Said: "Movies of this kind are very difficult to make today in the U.S. because the U.S. doesn't have co-productions and the studios are not interested in making them." The original Love Crime starred Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier as feuding exes - one of whom ends up murdered by the other. De Palma's cast is expected to be announced by the start of Cannes this May.

De Palma's latest films, The Black Dahlia in 2006 ($50 million budget; $49.3 million worldwide gross) and Redacted in 2007 (micro-budget; $782k worldwide) have neither inspired Untouchables-level praise nor Mission: Impossible-level success. The Untouchables: Capone Rising is currently in development at Paramount. That could give 70-year old De Palma two chances to prove that he's still got it.

- It's confirmed. Willow Smith will star in Annie. "We're developing a true superstar in Willow," Jay-Z told THR. "The Overbrook Entertainment family and I have a unified vision.  We've already produced a Tony Award winning play…This venture into film development and production is a perfect next step with teams that are accomplished, creative, and innovative.” Overbrook produced Will Smith's Ali, Hitch, Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Legend and Jaden Smith's Karate Kid, which combined have generated over $2.5 billion in revenue. Columbia president Doug Belgrad adds: “Combining Willow with the Overbrook team that reimagined Karate Kid and the spectacular Jay-Z makes this a dream project.  A decade ago, Jay-Z proved that the power of the underlying Broadway property remains, by showing how these songs could be reinterpreted for a new generation with Hard-Knock Life."

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