Kodi Smit-McPhee is in negotiations to star in Albert Hughes’ “The Solutrean,” the first film to go into production for Studio 8.
Based on a screenplay by Dan Wiedenhaupt, the story is set 20,000 years ago in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic period and centers on a young man’s quest to brave the inhospitable and dangerous conditions and find his way back to his tribe.
Plot details are not being disclosed at this time. Shooting is expected to begin in early 2016 in Iceland and Canada.
Sony, which has a deal to release Studio 8 films, will distribute “The Solutrean.”
Hughes will produce with Andrew Rona. Hughes brought Wiedenhaupt on board to write the spec screenplay, which Studio 8 pre-emptively optioned.
Smit-McPhee first broke out opposite Viggo Mortensen in John Hillcoat’s “The Road” and followed that up with “Let Me In.” He can be seen next as Nightcrawler in Fox’s “X-Men: Apocalypse.” He is repped ICM Partners, MGMT Entertainment and Active Artists Mangagement.
While this will likely be its first film to go into production, Jeff Robinov’s new venture is currently developing a handful of films that include “The Last Duel” with Francis Lawrence attached to direct and a “Nosferatu” remake with “The Witch” helmer Robert Eggers on board to write and direct.
Albert Hughes’ Ice Age Epic ‘The Solutrean’ Gets Rolling For Studio 8
Studio 8 and director Albert Hughes have just finished casting their Ice Age epic The Solutrean, which marks the first project mounted by the Sony-based company on its own. Jóhannes Haukur Johannesson (Black’s Game, A.D. The Bible Continues) is joining the film’s star Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse) in the story about a hunting expedition gone bad and the tale of survival through dangerous conditions to get home. He is actually the second lead in this picture.
The project is scheduled to go before the cameras on Monday with initial photography in Canada and Iceland. With the casting of such young talent, Studio 8 is clearly looking to put the money on the screen as the production plans to take full advantage of the Imax-3D format.
Also joining the cast is Jens Hultén (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Skyfall). Others cast include Natasha Wilson (Darc), Marcin Kowalczyk (The Lure) and Spencer Bogaert (Vincent).
The genesis of the project? Hughes came up with the idea and went to Studio 8’s Jeff Robinov who, in a previous incarnation, represented the filmmaker when the latter was an agent at ICM. Hughes brought Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt on board to write the spec screenplay, which Studio 8 then optioned. Hughes is producing it with Andrew Rona and they also previously worked together when Rona was president of Silver Pictures and Hughes directed the company’s Book of Eli.
Studio 8 is funded in partnership with the Chinese firm Fosun Group and Sony Pictures Entertainment. One of the company’s first film projects is Oscar-winning director Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which is already in the can and awaiting release on November 11.
Jóhannesson is repped by Matthew Seamon and Matt Floyd of Crimson Media Group, and Independent Talent Group. His attorney is Lev Ginsburg. Smit-McPhee is repped by ICM Partners, Active Artists Management and MGMT. Hultén is repped by Actors in Scandinavia. Kowalczyk is repped by Olga Bibik of Artist Management. Wilson is represented by Morgan Myers-Cavanagh & Melanie Turner at Pacific Artists Management and Primary Wave Entertainment, and Bogaert is repped by French Artistic Agency UBBA (Rosalie Cimino). Wiedenhaupt is repped by WME and Madhouse Entertainment.
Jeff Robinov Movie Under Investigation After 5 Dead Bison Used During Filming
'The Solutrean,' Robinov's first movie at Studio 8, faces an investigation into whether animals were slaughtered and skinned for use in an Ice Age-set drama: "These guys all know it's wrong." On April 27, five bison carcasses were arranged on the set of the Ice Age film The Solutrean in Alberta, Canada, for a scene that takes place after a hunting expedition. They had been slaughtered and partially skinned the previous day to be used in the scene by a butcher at the direction of the film's animal wrangler, John Scott, on his ranch property an hour and a half away.
But the American Humane Association prohibits the use of animals killed for the purpose of film production. And now the AHA, which was monitoring The Solutrean, is investigating the incident. "We were alerted to allegations that, if true, are a clear violation of our standards," says AHA rep Mark Stubis.
The Solutrean, directed by Albert Hughes and starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, is the first film from the Sony-partnered Studio 8, headed by former Warner Bros. chief Jeff Robinov. Studio 8 says it acted in good faith by inviting the AHA on set and "proactively contracted with a reputable meat-processing company to purchase bison carcasses that had previously been harvested." Studio 8 also says an internal review is underway, promising that "if we find that any deviation did indeed occur, we will consider all potential remedies, including rescuing five other bison who would have otherwise been slaughtered, by purchasing them for adoption by an animal sanctuary, along with any other actions involving other responsible parties that we feel are appropriate."
In addition, invoices, emails and a livestock travel manifest provided by Studio 8 appear to show butcher Longview Beef Jerky sold the bison to the production as dead carcasses (though a field on the manifest to indicate the bison's location beforehand was blank). Scott, a wrangler and owner of a century-old working ranch (which includes bison), boasts a long film CV, from Legends of the Fall and Unforgiven to The Revenant. But his name has been linked to trouble before. During production of The 13th Warrior, a 1999 Disney film on which he worked, a horse had to be destroyed after a wire sliced through its tendons and an artery. Scott also faced accusations he sold horses he'd used on the Canadian TV series Heartland — on which he was the head wrangler between 2008 and 2011 — at auctions attended by buyers for Bouvry Exports, the largest horse slaughterhouse in North America. It was probed by the Royal Canadian Police in 2010 for inhumane killing. (He admits to THR that "we use Bouvry" for ranch sales, but wouldn't comment on the Heartland horses, only saying, "I take my horses to horse sales, and I can't help where they go from there.")
“I have the right to do with my bison whatever I want to do,” says Scott.
As for the bison used in Solutrean, Scott declined comment, citing a confidentiality agreement, but he notes, generally, "I have the right to do with my bison whatever I want to do."
More forthcoming, at least initially, was Tom Kirk, a managing partner of Longview, a family firm whose own butchering handiwork can be seen onscreen in Brokeback Mountain and Hell on Wheels. He observed, "Our meat manager did meet with a producer and John [Scott]" in advance of the slaughter (Scott was offsite that day). Kirk claimed no ownership history of the bison, seemingly contradicting Studio 8's documentation, and said his team had no idea where the bison came from. The next day, after THR contacted Studio 8 and Scott, he backed away from his promise to answer follow-up questions. "I'm feeling really pressured by a lot of different individuals," Kirk said.
Undaunted is Dwight Beard, a veteran entertainment-industry trucker, assigned on The Solutrean to transport the bison from Scott's property to the set. He says he witnessed the killings as well as Scott directing a Longview butcher by phone to sign the manifest. "John told the butcher not to put his name on the paperwork for the buffalo because he knew that it could get traced back by animal rights activists," says Beard. "This was the answer I got when I asked why the butcher put his own name down for the buffalo even though John owned them. These guys all know it's wrong so they are trying to be arm's length away."
The only penalty the AHA could enact is to remove its accreditation from the film. Informed of the episode, a former AHA official argues the industry watchdog group should have kept a closer eye on Scott. Fraud by wranglers and trainers is a problem: "It's common, particularly after something [concerning] comes up, for what's submitted to be bogus."
Barbara Casey, an AHA alum who runs rival monitoring group Movie Animals Protected, believes fewer incidents would occur if trainers and wranglers were pushed harder to comply with the rules: "The person in charge of the animals needs to be accountable."
A version of this story first appeared in the July 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
‘Solutrean’ Retitled ‘Alpha,’ Gets New Release Date (EXCLUSIVE)
“The Solutrean” is getting a new title and release date.
The film will be rechristened “Alpha” and will open on March 2, 2018. It was previously supposed to open on Sept. 15, 2017. “Alpha” unfolds 20,000 years ago in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic period and centers on a young man’s friendship with a wolf. Albert Hughes (“The Book of Eli”) directs the picture with Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Road”) taking the lead role.
“Alpha” is one of the first productions from Studio 8, a new film venture that was started by Jeff Robinov, the former head of Warner Bros.’ film studio.
The “Alpha” move will make “White Boy Rick,” a thriller with Matthew McConaughey, the new venture’s first official release. “White Boy Rick” is also getting a new release date. It was originally slated to open on Jan. 12, 2018, but will instead open on Jan. 26, 2018. It will debut against “Extinction,” a thriller with Michael Pena, and “Midnight Sun,” a romance with Bella Thorne.
In addition to McConaughey, “White Boy Rick” stars newcomer Richie Merritt. The picture centers on a teenage drug dealer who becomes the youngest informant in FBI history.
There are a number of reasons for the “Alpha” switch. Historically, the March release date has fielded such big action pictures such as “Logan” and “300.” The hope is that the new launch will be able to capitalize on spring school vacations. “Alpha” is expected to get a PG-13 rating, which should help it appeal to a broad audience. It will face some hefty competition in the form of “Red Sparrow,” a spy thriller with Jennifer Lawrence.
Sony will handle the rollout of the movies as part of its distribution deal with Studio 8.