You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

New Line spruced up

Hughes pic to be developed by De Luca

NEW YORK — Michael Mann and Leonardo DiCaprio’s plan to collaborate on a movie about billionaire Howard Hughes has taken a turn toward New Line.

Led by production prexy Michael De Luca, New Line has embraced the Hughes picture and will continue developing the John Logan script as a starring vehicle for DiCaprio, who will play Hughes when he was a dashing, womanizing aviator. The hope is that Mann will direct the pic; he set up the project at Disney last summer under the overall deal he signed for his Forward Pass shingle (Daily Variety, June 24, 1999).

Since Mann just committed to direct Will Smith in a Muhammad Ali biopic at Columbia, and because there are no pay-or-play deals with either Mann or DiCaprio, the Howard Hughes pic is a down-the-road development pact. Though Mann received an Oscar director nom for his latest Disney financed pic, “The Insider,” the exit of Joe Roth from Disney and that studio’s heightened scrutiny of big-budget fare has led to speculation that other Mann projects could relocate.

Popular on Variety

Such talk is denied by sources close to the director, who has several promising Disney-based projects, including a film about the drug trade by “Armageddon” scribe Shane Salerno; another DiCaprio collaboration in “The Inside Man,” a Mann script about the true story of police union corruption that Harry Ufland is producing with Mann; and a Julius Caesar epic that Mann is contemplating with Tom Hanks that’s to be written by John Orloff.

For New Line, deal is a coup as it puts the studio in position for an event film with major elements.

“It is Howard Hughes’ formative years while he was setting air-speed records and charging through Hollywood,” said De Luca, who called Mann “the quintessential actor’s director who has proven time and again that his gift for dramatic storytelling is rivaled by none.”

Mann and DiCaprio have wanted to work together since they tried to mount a James Dean biopic, well before DiCaprio became a superstar in “Titanic.”

Theirs is just one of several attempts to make a movie based on the life of Hughes. While New Regency, which once figured to partner with Disney in the Mann-DiCaprio pic, has toyed with pairing Edward Norton and Milos Forman in a Hughes pic and Warren Beatty has long wanted to do one, it appears now that New Line has a clear track. New Regency may re-emerge as a possible financing partner when the film actually happens.

The other active Hughes project is a Mutual Film plan to produce a film based on “The Hoax,” Clifford Irving’s book about how he sold a phony Hughes autobiography to McGraw-Hill and did time for it after Hughes alerted the publisher that he hadn’t written a word of it.

New Line biz affairs exec veep David Alper negotiated for the studio while Mann was repped by CAA and attorney Harold Brown.

More Film

  • Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and

    Film News Roundup: Leonardo DiCaprio Presenting Robert De Niro SAG Life Achievement Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Leonardo DiCaprio will present Robert De Niro with his SAG Life Achievement Award, the Oliver Sacks documentary finds a home and UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television gets a new dean. AWARD PRESENTATION Leonardo DiCaprio has been selected to present Robert De Niro the SAG Life Achievement Award  at [...]


    ‘Karnawal,’ ‘Restless,’ ‘Summer White,’ ‘Firsts’ Win Big at Ventana Sur

    BUENOS AIRES  — With Ventana Sur now firing on multiple cylinders, featuring pix-in post or project competitions for not only art films but also genre pics and animation – two sectors embraced by young creators in Latin America – “Karnawal,” “Restless,” “Summer White” and  “Firsts” proved big winners among Ventana Sur’s arthouse and animation competitions, [...]

  • (center) George MacKay as Schofield in

    From "1917" to "Jojo Rabbit," Composers of Some of the Year's Top Scores Talk Shop

    “1917,” Thomas Newman The 20-year collaboration of director Sam Mendes and composer Thomas Newman has encompassed midlife crisis (“American Beauty”), crime in the Depression (“Road to Perdition”), the Gulf War (“Jarhead”), marriage in the 1950s (“Revolutionary Road”) and two James Bond adventures (“Skyfall,” “Spectre”). Now they’ve tackled World War I, with “1917,” but Mendes’ much-talked-about [...]

  • Billy Magnussen Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Spinoff With Billy Magnussen's Character in the Works for Disney Plus

    Disney is developing a spinoff of its live-action “Aladdin” with Billy Magnussen reprising his Prince Anders character. The unnamed project is in early development for the studio’s recently launched Disney Plus streaming service. Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script centered on the haughty Prince Anders, one of Princess Jasmine’s [...]

  • ROAD TRIP – In Disney and

    Disney Boasts a Bevy of Hopefuls for Oscar's Original Song Race

    When the Academy announces its shortlist for song nominations on Dec. 16, you can be certain that at least one Disney song will be on it and probably more. Disney songs have been nominated 33 times in the past 30 years, winning 12 of the gold statuettes. This year, the studio has at least four [...]

  • Innovative Scores Elevated the Year's Documentaries

    Innovative Scores Elevated the Year's Documentaries

    It’s next to impossible for a documentary score to be Oscar-nominated alongside the dozens of fictional narratives entered each year. But it did happen, just once: In 1975, composer Gerald Fried was nominated for his music for “Birds Do It, Bees Do It,” a documentary on the mating habits of animals. Fried, now 91, perhaps [...]

  • Ron Leibman, Jessica Walter'Mary Stuart' Play

    Ron Leibman, Tony-Winning Actor Known for 'Angels in America' and 'Friends,' Dies at 82

    Ron Leibman, an Emmy-winning actor who garnered a Tony for his work in Broadway’s “Angels in America” and played the father of Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel Green on “Friends,” died on Friday. He was 82. Robert Attermann, CEO of Abrams Artists Agency, confirmed the news to Variety. No further details were immediately available. Leibman, a native [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content