×

Lemke hits H’w’d with 2-pic pitch

Darren Lemke, who until February was wrangling shopping carts at a ShopRite in Carlstad, N.J., is now a half-million dollars richer, having sold two pitches to Touchstone for Tony Scott to direct.

The price for both is an estimated $500,000. JD Prods.’ Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher are producing. The first pitch is “Undertow,” the search for the black box after Air Force One is blown out of the sky, and the second is an untitled sci-fi thriller about a successful corporate assassin who is hunted by a younger clone of himself, created by a genetic engineering company.

The 27-year-old scribe has been writing screenplays since he was 15, but his scripts hadn’t gained attention until he gave a script called “Cherry Poppers” to Salvatore Capone, a friend who worked for director Joe Dante’s company Renfield Prods.

Capone, in turn, gave it to JD Prods. creative executive Rick Benattar, who read it and passed it on to JD principals Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher.

JD Prods. flew Lemke out to L.A. about three weeks ago and asked him to work on some pitches.

Lemke, who was agentless, then drew the attention of UTA, ICM and Endeavor. He eventually signed with Charlie Ferraro and Jeremy Zimmer at UTA and attorney Craig Emanuel.

“It’s beyond words and it hasn’t hit me yet,” Lemke said. “I always thought I had two talents: pushing up shopping carts and writing. I had no middle ground. Going out to Los Angeles is like visiting Oz. People want to look at my scripts and talk to me. I mean I even met Tony Scott. I’m somewhere over the rainbow.”

JD Prods. is currently in pre-production on the Ben Stiller starrer “Permanent Midnight” and just wrapped “Apt Pupil” for Phoenix and TriStar Pictures.

Capone and Benattar will co-produce both pitches.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • San-Sebastian

    San Sebastian, Zurich to Take Up SXSW, Tribeca Titles at Newly Created Film Markets

    The San Sebastian and Zurich film festivals have teamed to launch new film markets that will cater to the gaps created by the cancellation of SXSW and the postponement of Tribeca due to the coronavirus pandemic. The programming of both fall festivals will feature titles originally scheduled for spring fests SXSW and Tribeca. The markets [...]

  • Coronavirus Placeholder COVID19 Variety

    Japan's Toei Closes Tokyo Studio After Coronavirus Infection

    Toei closed its Tokyo studio Tuesday after actor Reo Komiya was diagnosed with the coronavirus. The star of the “Mashin Sentai Kiramager,” a sci-fi/action show broadcast on the TV Asahi network, seventeen-year-old Komiya tested positive for the virus while shooting new episodes at the studio. His condition is not known at the present time. A [...]

  • Aqute Media Takes North America on

    Aqute Media Takes North America on Helen Reddy Biopic 'I Am Woman'

    London-based sales agent WestEnd Films has closed a North American deal with Jeff Sackman and Berry Meyerowitz’s company Aqute Media for “I Am Woman,” the biopic about Australian singer Helen Reddy. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival as the opening film of the Special Presentations section. The film also recently [...]

  • Sundance Film Festival Placeholder

    Sheffield Doc/Fest Rejigs With Fall Programming, Virtual Forums in Lieu of Festival

    The Sheffield Doc/Fest pitching forums, MeetMarket and Alternate Realities Talent Market are to take place virtually in June, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The rest of the June festival is being replaced by a series of programs that will take place on weekends through the fall. The planned programming will include film screenings, talks, panels, [...]

  • Southland Tales

    Streamer Mubi Partners With Prada Foundation on 'Perfect Failures' Film Series

    Specialist streaming service Mubi has teamed up with fashion label Prada’s Fondazione Prada foundation on “Perfect Failures,” a curated selection of movies deemed to have been “widely misunderstood” upon their release. The joint project will launch on both the Mubi platform and the Fondazione Prada’s website on April 5 with U.S. director Richard Kelly’s 2006 flop [...]

  • Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in

    'Morbius,' 'Ghostbusters' Sequel and More Sony Movies Pushed Back to 2021

    Sony Pictures has pushed back many of its major tentpoles — including “Morbius,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Uncharted” and “Peter Rabbit 2” — to next year, the studio announced on Monday. Jason Reitman’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” has moved from July 10, 2020, to March 5, 2021; Jared Leto’s “Morbius” has been pushed back from July 31, 2020, to [...]

  • Anne Hathaway to Star in 'French

    Film News Roundup: Anne Hathaway Stars in 'French Children Don't Throw Food'

    In today’s film news roundup, Anne Hathaway will portray an American journalist in Paris, blockbuster director Michael Bay signs with Sony Pictures, and “Extra Ordinary” and “The Etruscan Smile” are added to arthouse streaming services. CASTING Anne Hathaway is starring in the movie “French Children Don’t Throw Food,” based on Pamela Druckerman’s autobiographical book, “Bringing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content