D'Works signs Benioff, Forster to actioner

DreamWorks prevailed in a heated bidding battle for an untitled action thriller pitch to be written by David Benioff and directed by Marc Forster, who last helmed “Monster’s Ball.” The pricetag of $1.25 million against $2 million is one of the highest sums paid for a pitch in recent memory.

DreamWorks’ Michael De Luca and Adam Goodman closed a deal with WMA late Friday for what the studio is eyeing as a high octane actioner with tentpole potential.

It is the latest whopping payday for Benioff, the author-turned-screenwriter who has notched his second million-dollar deal in the last six months.

Benioff got $1.8 million from New Regency for his spec script “Stay,” a “Sixth Sense”-type drama that attracted director David Fincher and is rumored to have Tobey Maguire circling. At the same time, his adaptation of his own novel “The 25th Hour” is a go project at Disney, with Spike Lee directing Edward Norton and Rosario Dawson, and his adaptation of Homer’s “The Iliad” is coming together as a period event picture at Warner Bros. Called “The Trojan War,” it has caught the fancy of director Wolfgang Petersen.

Equally compelling is that Benioff hooked all of those deals and creative elements on first drafts.

Forster, whose “Monster’s Ball” has Halle Berry in contention for best actress Oscar honors, is next set to direct the Miramax pic “Neverland,” which Johnny Depp will topline. He’s also attached to Universal pic “The Dallas Buyers Club,” which Brad Pitt is circling.

The DreamWorks project was conceived by Carl Von Malaise, who brought the idea to Forster. WMA and Industry Entertainment matched the director to the scribe.

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