George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s production company Smokehouse Pictures are in final negotiations to sign an exclusive two-year theatrical development and production deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Smokehouse had been previously working with Warner Bros.; projects the company was developing there include David Gordon Green’s John Grisham adaptation The Innocent Man; an adaptation of Beau Willimon’s lauded play Farragut North; and Aaron Sorkin’s Supreme Court story The Challenge (see list below). Those will all stay at Warner Bros.
Commenting on the announcement, Clooney said, “Warner Bros. has been a great place to work and I’ve felt like part of a family for almost 20 years. So in moving on, I’m leaving a terrific company and a lot of dear friends. They’re a class act. In looking ahead, I’m tremendously excited to be working at Sony Pictures, and we all feel like it’s a perfect match for Smokehouse. Grant Heslov and I hope to deliver the kind of films that will make them proud.”
“We admire and respect George and Grant as filmmakers and producers and we couldn’t be more excited to be in business with them and their talented team at Smokehouse Pictures,” added Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Picture Entertainment and Chairman of the studio’s Motion Picture Group.
“The broad range of quality projects they have championed and the compelling and sometimes provocative material they support says everything about their company and their creative aspirations. While we have been trimming production deals overall for the last few years, we see real value in opening our doors to producers with their critical and commercial track record and their artistic point of view, and we know they will be a fantastic addition to the Sony Pictures family.”
In addition to Clooney and Heslov, the Smokehouse Pictures team includes Senior Vice President of Development Nina Wolarsky and creative executive Alex Meenehan.
Smokehouse previously produced Leatherheads for Universal; the company also produced the forthcoming Clooney-starring, Heslov-directed The Men Who Stare At Goats for Overture.
Heslov and Clooney previously worked together at Section Eight, which Clooney partnered on with Steven Soderbergh (which was also set up with Warner). They formed Smokehouse in 2006.
Smokehouse is developing the following projects, still set up at Warner Bros:
- The Challenge
Aaron Sorkin adapted Jonathan Mahler’s nonfiction book chronicling the historic Supreme Court case in which two lawyers sued the Bush administration on behalf of accused terrorist Salim Hamdan.
- Our Brand Is Crisis
Satirical comedy about American spin doctors competing in the same Presidential election in Bolivia. Peter Straughan will write the script based on Rachel Boynton’s documentary.
- Farragut North
An adaptation of Beau Willimon’s critically acclaimed play, set during the Iowa presidential primary.
- Escape From Tehran
Chris Terrio is writing this screenplay, about the true story of how the CIA used a fake movie project to smuggle hostages out of 1979 Tehran.
- The Tourist
A contemporary spy thriller about a spy who risks everything to reveal a conspiracy after he’s accused of a murder he didn’t commit. Tony Peckham is adapting Olen Steinhauer’s book.
- The Innocent Man
David Gordon Green is adapting the bestselling nonfiction book by John Grisham, about murder and injustice in a small town in Oklahoma.