NEW YORK — Martin Lawrence is in early negotiations that could lead him to become the newest member of the $20 million-per-film club. In fact, he’s in talks for two pics at Columbia, each of which would pay him north of $20 million.
The two films are action comedy “National Security,” an Outlaw Prods./Intermedia Films project on which Columbia is negotiating, and “Blue Streak 2,” the sequel to the hit Columbia comedy. Also from the original “Streak,” screenwriter Steve Carpenter, director Les Mayfield and co-star Luke Wilson are negotiating for encores.
Col execs were busy this week trying to close a deal with Intermedia on “National Security” so that the studio could lock in two straight slots with Lawrence.
The closure of either deal will put Lawrence in the rarefied territory reached by comic actors Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy and Chris Tucker. (Mike Myers pacted for that amount before dropping out of “Dieter,” but will hit the mark on his next pic).
It’s a significant bump up for Lawrence, who’s getting $16.5 million to next star in the Gil Junger-directed “The Black Knight” for Fox/New Regency, and the raise comes after he toplined the summer smash “Big Momma’s House.”
The early planning is for Lawrence to follow in the spring with either “National Security” or “Blue Streak 2,” depending on which crystallizes first. He’d follow with the second film in July — if there are no strikes. Lawrence most recently wrapped the MGM comedy “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” with Danny DeVito.
“National Security” has been a hot project since it was scripted two years ago by Jay Scherick and David Ronn, two “Spin City” writer-producers who also scripted the upcoming Matthew Perry/Reginald Hudlin comedy “Servicing Sarah” for Mandalay.
Pic, to be produced by Outlaw’s Bobby Newmyer, Jeffrey Silver and Scott Strauss, concerns a white cop wrongly accused of pulling a Rodney King on an African-American (Lawrence). Circumstance leads them to team up to hunt men who want to kill them. The film was originally bought by Outlaw and then brought to Intermedia partners Nigel Sinclair, Guy East and Moritz Borman.
More cops and robbers
“Blue Streak 2,” the sequel to the 1999 hit that was produced by Neal H. Moritz and Toby Jaffe, would put Lawrence back in the criminal/cop buddy dynamic of the original. Here, his character gets drafted by the cop (to be played once again by Luke Wilson) to help solve a crime.
The sequel will be written by Carpenter, who shared screen credit on the original with Michael Berry and John Blumenthal. Aside from boosting Lawrence, the comedy helped launch Wilson, who’s upcoming in “Charlie’s Angels,” has joined Reese Witherspoon in the MGM comedy “Legally Blonde” and then will star for Wes Anderson in the Disney film “The Royal Tenenbaums.” He’ll then move on to the “Blue Streak” sequel.
Lawrence is repped by UTA and managed by the Firm, Wilson’s repped by ICM’s Nick Styne, and “National Security” scribes Scherick and Ronn are repped by BKWU’s Emile Gladstone.