Sony Pictures announced today it has extended its first-look deal with Escape Artists, and part of the announcement revealed that they are looking at Denzel Washington to star in The Equalizer, based on the TV series. Here's the full announcement:
Sony Pictures Entertainment has extended its first-look non-exclusive deal with Escape Artists, the independently financed film and television production company headed by partners Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, and Steve Tisch, it was announced today by Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures. The three-year deal renews Sony Pictures' relationship with the company, which has been headquartered at the studio since 1998.
Recent Escape Artists films for Sony Pictures include The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds, and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. Among its current projects, the company is partnering with Mandate Pictures and Management 360 to produce Great Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell, which Sony Pictures will distribute with MGM in North America next December.
Escape Artists has several other projects currently in development with Sony Pictures, including:
- Sex Tape, with Nicholas Stoller attached to direct and Jason Segel attached to star
- A feature film adaptation of the hit 1980s television series "The Equalizer," to be written by Richard Wenk. The project is being developed with Denzel Washington in mind to star and Alex Siskind is partnered with Escape Artists to produce. Washington previously starred in Escape Artists' The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and starred in and directed Antwone Fisher and The Great Debaters for producer Todd Black.
- Masters of the Universe, based on the popular Mattel toyline, which the company is developing for Columbia Pictures.
- How To Disappear Completely, written by Ed Solomon and based on the Swedish film Vitus.
The company also has projects set up at other studios, including:
- I Want to _ Your Sister, a comedy written by Melissa Stack which is set up at Paramount Pictures.
- Rumspringa, a comedy written by Shauna Cross set up at Fox 2000.
- Gospel for Teens, based on a 60 Minutes segment that will be produced with Chris Meledrandi and Illumination Entertainment at Universal.
Commenting on the announcement, Pascal said, "We have been partners with Todd, Jason, and Steve for more than a decade and we trust them implicitly for a simple reason: they have first-rate taste. They carefully choose the projects that they want to make and they have a very focused and disciplined development process. We couldn't be more thrilled to continue our collaboration with them."
Belgrad added, "Escape Artists is one of our most valued producing partnerships. They make incredibly smart choices in the way they develop, package and produce movies. Steve, Todd and Jason make high quality, commercial films and they are a true joy to work with."
In a joint statement, Black, Blumenthal, and Tisch added, "Sony Pictures has been our home since 1998, and we couldn't ask for better partners who share our taste. We have always been treated like part of the family – Amy, Michael, Doug, and the outstanding marketing and distribution teams are always there offering us a tremendous amount of support and the resources to do our job. As producers, you couldn't ask for a more collaborative and smart studio crew. It's a great feeling to know we'll be continuing to do work with them through 2015."
ESCAPE ARTISTS is an independently financed motion picture and television production company with a first look non-exclusive deal at Sony Pictures Entertainment, headed by Partners Steve Tisch, Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal. In 2001, Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal's Black & Blu merged with the Steve Tisch Company to form Escape Artists.
The first produced movie under the Escape Artists banner was A Knight's Tale, starring Heath Ledger in 2001. In the fall of 2005, Escape Artists released The Weather Man, directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine. Their next film, The Pursuit of Happyness, directed by Gabriele Muccino and starring Will Smith, was released in December of 2006 and earned over $300 million in worldwide ticket sales, as well as best actor Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Will Smith. Seven Pounds, another Gabriele Muccino-directed film starring Will Smith, was released in December of 2008. In 2009, Escape Artists released the Alex Proyas thriller Knowing, starring Nicolas Cage, and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, directed by Tony Scott and starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta. Their latest film, Great Hope Springs, directed by David Frankel and starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell, will be released in December, 2012.