'Perros' scribe scores big payday from U

In a particularly rich writing deal, Guillermo Arriaga has jumped aboard Universal Pictures’ “Dallas Buyers Club” in a deal valued at $600,000 against at least $1 million.

Deal marks the first English-lingo deal for the scribe that does not pair him with director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. It was with Inarritu that Arriaga exploded onto the U.S. filmmaking scene in 2000 with Spanish-lingo hit “Amores Perros.”

And it was with Inarritu that he recently repaired on the drama “21 Grams,” a $20 million pic starring Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts and Charlotte Gainsbourg, to be distribbed in the U.S. by Focus Features.

But with “Dallas Buyers Club” the UTA-repped Arriaga is attached to a very high-profile project for U. “Monster’s Ball” helmer Marc Forster inked a seven-figure deal to helm the pic (Daily Variety, March 8).

The “Buyers Club” of the title refers to the underground pharmacies that supply HIV drugs not approved for use in the U.S., which often undercut the prices of FDA-approved drugs.

“Dallas Buyers Club” tells the story of Ron Woodroof, a redneck electrician who contracted HIV around 1980 and developed full-blown AIDS by 1986. Told to “go home and die,” he instead went on to found one of the most risky and effective AIDS-related disease management efforts at the time. Woodroof tested illegal drugs on himself, prolonging his life six years and helping to treat and extend the lives of thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Project is being produced by David Bushell (“Sling Blade”), with an original script by Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack. Insiders say Brad Pitt is interested in toplining the project, but there have been no negotiations.

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