Beating out two majors and a large indie, Island World ended a hectic five-day bidding war by acquiring Robert Kuhn’s script “The Cure” late Wednesday for a reported $ 1 million cash.
Described by sources close to the project, “The Cure” is “a bittersweet, modern-day Huck Finn.” Two 12-year-old boys strike up a friendship in the beginning of summer, and when it is discovered one has AIDS, the other decides to find a way to heal his new friend.
Marcie Wright, prexy and owner of Burbank-based literary agency the Wright Concept, first started shopping the script about eight weeks ago, and watched the big guns roll quickly into position.
Wright, who has repped Kuhn since 1988, said Warner Bros. exec VP of theatrical production Robert Guralnick bid on “Cure,” along with Amblin development toppers Mitch Cohn and Jason Hof, who eyed the pic as a Spielberg vehicle.
After Spielberg and the WB people read the script last weekend, the offers came fast and furious, Wright said. “All hell broke loose here at 5 p.m. Monday, ” she said.
New Line was even willing to guarantee that the picture would get made, but Island World’s CEO Eric Eisner sealed the deal late Wednesday, less than 24 hours after reading the script.
“They simply gave us an offer we couldn’t refuse,” explained Wright. “We feel they will handle this project with the sensitivity it deserves.”
Amblin’s Cohn described the script as “fantastic,” but also said that the $ 1 million Wright was holding out for was higher than he wanted to go.
New Line exec VP and chief operating officer Mike De Luca said “Cure” was “one of the best scripts I have read in a long time,” but also thought $ 1 million upfront was “not a precedent I’d like to set in the way we operate.” He prefers to guarantee production instead when he feels sure about a script. WB was unavailable for comment.
Although Island World hasn’t formally guaranteed production on the pic, Wright said, “When you pay this much money for a script, you’re going to do it.”
This new acquisition comes right after the indie reportedly paid $ 500,000 for Kathy McWorter’s script “The War,” which will be produced by Island World and distributed by Universal with Kevin Costner attached (Daily Variety, June 9 ).
Next week, Wright said, Island World toppers will start looking for a helmer for “Cure.”
Scribe Robert Kuhn was previously a writer for Pat Sajak’s CBS show and the early FBC show “Haywire,” and also sold the spec script “Royal Coach Taxi” to TriStar, Wright said.