Actor-singer-songwriter Nick Jonas and Laurence Fishburne are set to star in “The Blacksmith” which, financed and produced by AGC Studios, signals a potential early top title with the makings of a new action thriller movie franchise at June’s Cannes virtual markets.
Jonas (the “Jumanji” franchise, “Midway”) and Fishburne (the “Matrix” and “John Wick” franchises, “Mission: Impossible III”) were unveiled Tuesday by Stuart Ford, AGC Studios chairman and CEO, who also said that the producers would “soon be announcing an equally outstanding young female actor to play across from Nick.”
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“Taken’s” Pierre Morel will direct from a screenplay adaptation by Ben Ripley (“Source Code,” “Flatliners”) of the acclaimed 2011 graphic novel from Kickstart Comics by Malik Evans and Richard Sparkman.
“Pairing“ an exhilarating young talent like Nick with seasoned heavyweights such as Pierre and Laurence” means that after the female lead’s casting, “we will have all the ingredients for a major new film franchise built around a very modern breed of action hero,” Ford added.
That modernity comes in the hero’s tech savvy: Jonas plays Wes Loomis, a go-to weapons expert for the intelligence community who goes on the run after his lab is destroyed and colleagues murdered.
Resorting to his unique skills set to keep him alive, and the aid of a brilliant, young CIA analyst, Noelle Hazlitt, Wes seeks out his mentor, Mather (Fishburne), a retired blacksmith, to guide Noelle and him on what the film’s synopsis describes as “a journey that keeps this improbable pair one step ahead of their pursuers in a breathless, action-filled thriller that is just the beginning of the globe-trotting adventures of ‘The Blacksmith.’”
“A fresh, highly contemporary new take on the espionage genre,” said Ford, “The Blacksmith’s” production will commence later in 2020.
Along with AGC Studios, Jon Shestack (“Air Force One”) will produce with Kickstart Productions’ Jason Netter (“Wanted”), and Jeremy Stein, with AGC’s Ford and Linda McDonough executive producing. Samantha Shear and Bob Sobhani will also executive produce.
In the negotiations to join “The Blacksmith,” Jonas was represented by WME and attorneys Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham LLP; Fishburne is managed by Helen Sugland of Landmark Artists Management, and was represented by Paradigm and Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano.
Morel was represented by UTA, manager Renee Tab of Sentient, and Hansen, Jacobsen, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellmann LLP; AGC’s VP of legal & business affairs, Anant Tamirisa, negotiated on behalf of AGC.
The announcement comes as L.A. and London-based AGC Studios, positioned principally as a production-financing movie company and moving forcefully into the TV business, readies to put multiple features into production or advanced pre-production after lockdown ends.
It has also recently wrapped production on a host of film and TV projects. These include three in-house AGC Studios productions: Neil Burger’s YA sci-fi thriller “Voyagers,” starring Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead and Colin Farrell, to be released this November via Lionsgate; Tate Taylor’s feature comedy “Breaking News in Yuba County,” starring Academy Award winner Allison Janney, Mila Kunis, Regina Hall, Golden Globe winner Awkwafina and Wanda Sykes; and revenge thriller “The Secrets We Keep,” with Noomi Rapace and Joel Kinnaman.
Also wrapped – and indeed released – and an example of AGC maximizing the benefits of its long-standing international relationships, sci-fi television series “War of the Worlds,” co-financed by AGC, Studiocanal and Fox Intl. and starring Gabriel Byrne and Elizabeth McGovern, premiered on Epix earlier this year.
Looking forward, AGC is also partnering CNN Films on two upcoming doc features: “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” to bow later this year via Magnolia and Participant; and “Ladyboss: The Jackie Collins Story,” now in post-production.
AGC also serves as the international distribution partner on Roland Emmerich’s forthcoming sci-fi action epic “Moonfall,” by far the biggest feature brought onto the market at last year’s Cannes Festival. It is in pre-production on horror thriller “Geechee,” starring Andrea Riseborough, and on the television adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez’s “News Of A Kidnapping” for Amazon Studios, one of its highest-profile drama series set in Latin America.
Independent distribution can still offer large financial and audience success, Ford has said. But, he added, AGC Studios is looking to play extensively in the digital distribution universe as well.
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