Costner eyes ‘Dragonfly’

U to distrib film domestically, Spyglass o'seas

NEW YORK — With Spyglass poised to step up as foreign partner, Universal Pictures is negotiating with Kevin Costner to star in “Dragonfly,” the Tom Shadyac-directed, $75 million drama which Shadyac and Mark Johnson are producing.

Spyglass partners Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber moved into the forefront on the film after MGM put the script into turnaround over what the studio considered too high a price tag for a non-genre film.

MGM was originally expected to distribute the film domestically, with Universal taking foreign. Shadyac and Johnson got assigned the rights and because Shadyac’s Shady Acres is U-based, the remaining rights went back to that studio.

In the new configuration, Universal will distribute the film in domestic territories, essentially selling off the foreign rights to Spyglass for a fixed, undisclosed price. That’s similar to what Spyglass did to great success on “The Sixth Sense,” a film whose supernatural elements have gotten it compared to “Dragonfly.”

With that piece of the puzzle falling into place, negotiations are now ongoing at UTA to close deals with Shadyac and with Costner, who sparked to the project after meeting with the director ( Daily Variety, Sept. 14).

The film involves a leap of faith for all involved. Though Shadyac has an enviable track record of hits, they’ve all been comedies like “Patch Adams” and “Liar, Liar.”

Universal and Costner believe enough in his vision and track record to let him make his movie. And Costner and Universal execs have resolved to put the recent past behind them after clashing on their last film, the baseball pic “For Love of the Game.”

Shooting will begin in late October, meaning that Costner will essentially have gone from starring in the New Line/Beacon drama “13 Days” to starring with Angelina Jolie in Mandalay’s Oliver Stone-directed “Beyond Borders,” and then to taking the lead role in “Dragonfly. In this last he plays a grieving doctor who feels he’s being contacted by the spirit of his ex-wife through the near-death experiences of his patients.

The script, originally by the “Steinbeck’s Point of View” team of Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson, was rewritten by David Seltzer.

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