‘Blast Off’ for Noyce

Phillip Noyce is attached to direct the high-tech geopolitical thriller “Blast Off” for Polygram/Interscope Films.

It’s the first project the director will develop under his two-year first-look deal at Polygram Filmed Entertainment, which became effective Saturday.

Based on a spec script by J.D. Shapiro and A. William Dozier, “Blast Off” is now being rewritten by Michael Schiffer (“The Peacemaker,” “Crimson Tide”).

The sci-fi adventure is set in the near future on the first International Space Station, which is scheduled for assembly over the next decade. The station is comandeered by one of its crew members who wreaks havoc on Earth by sabotaging satellites that control everything from cell phones to ballistic missiles.

In moving from Paramount to Polygram, Noyce hopes to expand the activities of his production company, Rumbalara, into developing and producing films he does not produce.

Kathleen McLaughlin, formerly Rumbalara VP of development, has been promoted to president, and will run the company in addition to her producing duties.

“We want to grow into becoming major suppliers of product for Polygram,” said McLaughlin.

Rumbalara, which will move into new offices on Melrose Ave., is in the process of adding another L.A.-based development exec. The company is also opening a one-person office in London, where Noyce spends part of his time.

Very exciting at Polygram

“It’s very exciting working with Polygram,” Noyce told Daily Variety. “They’ve shown themselves willing to back an eclectic slate of films to spend on marketing, and to come up with interesting promotional ideas. They’re very cashed up and very determined.”

Noyce is also developing the Ebbe Roe Smith script “The Trail” for Peters Entertainment and Warner Bros. Inspired by John Ford’s film “The Searchers,” the film is set 400 years in the future when humans migrate to the far reaches of the Solar System after Earth has become uninhabitable.

Meanwhile, Noyce continues to develop “The Quiet American,” along with Mirage and Saga Pictures at Paramount. Par has balked at fully funding the project, which is based on Robert Schenkkan’s adaptation of Graeme Greene’s 1950s Vietnam thriller, at Noyce’s original budget level.

“We’ve gone back to the drawing board and reduced the budget,” said Noyce. “But I don’t know whether it’s small enough to convince Paramount to take the risk on such audacious material.”

Noyce’s defection deals a significant blow to the studio. While based at Par, he directed “Patriot Games,” “Sliver,” “Clear and Present Danger” and “The Saint,” which combined to gross more than $600 million worldwide.

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