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Film News Roundup: ‘Project X’ Draws Amadeus Serafini Opposite John Cena, Jackie Chan (EXCLUSIVE)

In today’s film news roundup, Amadeus Serafina gets a major role, Film Independent starts a residency program, Legendary is developing a heist project, Glenn Close is honored and the Haifa Film Festival receives support.

CASTINGS

“Scream” star Amadeus Serafini has scored his first major movie role, joining John Cena and Jackie Chan in the independent action-thriller “Project X,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Scott Waugh is directing from a script by Arash Amel. The project had formerly been titled “Ex-Baghdad” and is set at a Chinese-run oil refinery in the Middle East.

Serfaini will portray an American mercenary and Chan will play a Chinese private security contractor who is tasked with extracting oil workers from a refinery that’s been attacked. Char’s character is teamed up with a former U.S. Marine (Cena), when he learns that the attackers’ real plan is to steal the oil.

Chan will also produce “Project X” along with Joe Tam, Esmond Ren, and Hans Canosa. Cena was announced in June as a replacement for Sylvester Stallone in the part. Waugh’s credits include “Act of Valor” and “Need for Speed.”

Serafini starred in the first two seasons of MTV’s “Scream” and in the independent comedy “Summertime,” directed by Edward Burns.

Serafini is repped by CAA, Luber Roklin, and Darren Trattner at Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer.

RESIDENCY PROGRAM

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has unveiled an initiative in which rising filmmakers from the Venice International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival will be selected for a three-week residency program in partnership with Film Independent.

Three filmmakers from the Orrizonti Section of Venice and three from TIFF’s Filmmaker Lab will be selected to travel to Los Angeles from January 2-23 for mentorship, master classes and workshops. They will be paired with individual mentors who are respected filmmakers to help hone their skills, attend screenings and education events hosted by Film Independent, and attend the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards viewing party.

“The HFPA has supported Film Independent for 20 years and is committed to providing the resources needed to empower the next generation of filmmakers and storytellers,” said Meher Tatna, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. “Film Independent has extensive experience in organizing cultural exchange and artist development programs with a particular focus on international filmmakers and we are thrilled to partner with them to bring this residency program to life.”

LEGENDARY PROJECT

Legendary has closed a deal on an untitled heist project from Chris Baugh and Brendan Mullin. Baugh will direct and both will produce.

The pitch is a subversion of the superhero genre where a group of career criminals stage a heist on the lair of a superhero and must escape with their lives when everything goes wrong.

Baugh and Mullin’s previous credits include “Bad Day for the Cut,” the Northern Ireland-set thriller that premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. That story centers on a middle-aged Irish farmer who lives at home with his mother and sets off on a mission of revenge when the old lady is murdered.

Baugh and Mullin are both represented by CAA and Grandview.

CLOSE HONORED

Glenn Close will be honored by Museum of the Moving Image at its 32nd annual Salute on Dec. 3 in New York City.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Ivan L. Lustig, co-chairman of the museum’s board of trustees and Carl Goodman, the museum’s executive director.

“Glenn Close is one of the most acclaimed actresses of our time, with nominations for six Academy Awards, twelve Golden Globes, twelve Emmys, and four Tonys,” Lustig said. “Whatever the role, from her star-making performances in The Big Chill and Fatal Attraction to her unforgettable portrayal of Patty Hewes in Damages, she commands our attention through the brilliance and emotional power of her work.”

Close stars in the upcoming Sony Pictures Classics release, “The Wife,” with Jonathan Pryce and Christian Slater, directed by Bjorn Runge.

PRODUCTION START

Production has started in Utah on “The Happy Worker” from blockchain entertainment studio SingularDTV with  Josh Whitehouse, Thomas Haden Church and Colm Meaney starring.

The cast includes Meagan Holder, Rhys Mitchell, J.R. Starr and Amy Shiels. Whitehouse stars as a man living in a utopian universe suspended in a left-of-center timelessness and a reluctant hero eager to please his wife and his boss. As the decades-old utopia starts to crumble, he needs to be quick on his feet to save his community.

“The Happy Worker” is based on S.E. Feinberg’s play, which was first performed in 1982 at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. The play was adapted for the screen by Feinberg, Jerold Pearson and director Duwayne Dunham. SingularDTV’s Co-founder and President of Entertainment Kim Jackson is producing with First Street Films’ Bill Borden.

The film is executive produced by David Lynch, La Mer Walker and SingularDTV’s Zach LeBeau, Lynette Coll and Jason Tyrell.

FILM FESTIVAL

BCL Finance Group, a financing fund headed by Adi Cohen, Michael Bassick and Michael Laundon, has become the principal commercial sponsor of the 34th Haifa International Film Festival, Variety has learned exclusively.

The festival opens Sept. 22. BCL is set to grant three prizes for the main three competition categories and provide completing financing for three additional films. The funds being granted are valued at approximately $1.5 million.

Bassick, Laundon and BCL’s European partner Jordi Rediu will also serve on the jury of the respective categories.

“It is BCL’s intention and calculated strategy to support talented filmmakers of select prestigious festivals around the world, while also investing in the future of quality films,” Cohen said. “We are delighted to launch this strategy with such a wonderful event in the city of peace and co-existence between people of diverse religions and ethnicity, on the shores of the Mediterranean. BCL is convinced that this strategy, in addition to its effect on the chances of these films being completed, will certainly yield great financial results.”

 

 

 

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