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Film News Roundup: Lionsgate Buys Roland Emmerich’s ‘Moonfall’ for North America

In today’s film news roundup, Lionsgate re-teams with Roland Emmerich for “Moonfall,” Kimberly Scott is cast opposite Jennifer Hudson, Syd Mead receives an honor and sci-fier “Alternate” gets a green light.

RIGHTS DEAL

Lionsgate has bought North American rights to Roland Emmerich’s science-fiction project “Moonfall.”

The deal, announced Tuesday, re-teams Lionsgate with Emmerich after they previously collaborated on the World War II epic “Midway.” The movie’s North American box office take has topped $43 million in less than three weeks.

“Moonfall” centers on a mysterious force knocking the moon from its orbit around Earth, which sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. In response, a ragtag team launches an impossible last-ditch mission into space to land on the lunar surface and save Earth from annihilation. The cast is not yet set.

“Roland Emmerich is the undisputed master of spectacular high-concept epics, and the premise and promise of ‘Moonfall’ is the kind of action tentpole that will be event moviegoing in 2021,” said Jason Constantine, president of acquisitions and co-productions, who oversaw the deal for Lionsgate. “This is the kind of visual theatrical entertainment that Roland does better than anyone and we are thrilled to partner with him yet again.”

“Moonfall” will begin production in 2020 and will be directed by Emmerich from a script by himself, his “2012” co-writer Harald Kloser and Spenser Cohen.

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Emmerich is producing under his Centropolis banner with Kloser producing through his company, Street Entertainment. AGC sold North American rights to Lionsgate and is handling worldwide sales.

Centropolis and AGC launched sales at the Cannes Film Festival in May, generating “high eight figures” in sales. Centropolis raised equity funding together with CAA Media Finance and AGC.

Emmerich’s credits as a director-producer include both “Independence Day” movies, “2012,” “White House Down,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “10,000 B.C.” and “Moon 44.”

CASTING

Kimberly Scott has joined Liesl Tommy’s Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect,” playing “Mama Franklin” opposite Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker, Variety has learned exclusively.

Scott previously worked with director Tommy on both a regional theater production of Lynn Nottage’s play “Ruined” and the world premiere of “Party People.” She was nominated for a Tony for August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.”

She recurs on “Bob Hearts Abishola” and her film credits include “Love and Other Drugs,” “The Great Buck Howard,” “K-Pax,” “Batman and Robin,” “Batman Forever,” “The Client,” “Falling Down” and James Cameron’s “The Abyss.” Scott is represented by manager Steven Adams.

HONOR

Syd Mead, who made design contributions to “Star-Trek: The Motion Picture,” “Aliens” and “Blade Runner,” has been named the recipient of the William Cameron Menzies Award from the Art Directors Guild.

He will be honored at the 24th annual Excellence in Production Design Awards on Feb. 1 at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown. The announcement was made by ADG president Nelson Coates and awards producer Scott Moses.

“Syd Mead has played a pivotal role in shaping cinema with his unique ability to visualize the future,” Coates said. “His visions and illustrations of future technological worlds remain as a testament to his vast imagination. Mead is one of the most influential concept artists and industrial designers of our time.”

Mead’s career includes “Blade Runner 2049,” “2010: The Year We Make Contact,” “Time Cop,” “Tomorrowland,” “Mission: Impossible lll” and “Mission to Mars.”

PROJECT LAUNCH

Lady A Pictures and SLA Films are producing writer/director Anthony Garland’s feature film debut “Alternate” with filming starting next year in Australia.

The high-concept sci-fi thriller will be produced by Ali Mueller for Lady A Pictures and Anita Gou, SLA’s Anna Vincent and Timothy White. “Alternate” is set in a high-rise office building and follows an overworked young executive who goes back in time four hours to save his girlfriend from being killed.

Garland directed and wrote the short film “Ophelia” and wrote “They Grow Up.” Both played LA Shorts Fest, where “Ophelia” was selected as Best of Fest.

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