MGM makes ‘Time’ for major payday

Washington to reteam with helmer Franklin

Denzel Washington will draw a $20 million paycheck for “Out of Time,” an MGM thriller that will re-team the Oscar-nommed thesp with his “Devil in a Blue Dress” director Carl Franklin.

Pic, which begins shooting in May, will be produced by Neal Moritz and Jesse Beaton Franklin. Damien Saccani and Jon Berg will exec produce.

Written by Dave Collard, “Out of Time” stars Washington as a small Florida town’s police chief who does the wrong thing for the right reason and then must use guile to get out of a difficult situation, complicated by two women.

“Carl was one of the first people I gave this script to last year, because he was so well suited to the material and also because of the fantasy of matching Carl and Denzel after a first pairing that was both stylish and successful,” said MGM production president Alex Gartner. “The tone of this film is lighter than Denzel’s last two films, but it is smart, fun and has tentpole potential.”

The ICM-repped Washington is up for an Oscar for “Training Day,” and his latest film, “John Q,” set a President’s Day weekend opening record with more than $23 million.

While it is not uncommon for stars to choose overtly commercial fare to hike their “quotes,” Washington’s rise is noteworthy in that he continues to choose edgy and provocative films.

Washington had numerous offers for his next slot, but chose “Out of Time” in order to work again with Franklin. By the time the film begins production, Washington should be done with post-production on his directorial debut, which hasn’t yet been formally titled but is known as “The Antwone Fisher Story.” He made the film for Fox Searchlight, which will release it in late fall.

Landing Washington is a coup for MGM at a time when the studio is trying to rebound from the box office disappointments “Rollerball” and “Hart’s War,” the latter of which was crushed when it opened opposite the “John Q.”

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