EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has learned that San Andreas and True Detective star Alexandra Daddario is set to star in Highland Film Group’s comedy Happy Life opposite Evangeline Lilly and Ike Barinholtz.

Pic reps the directorial debut of Mindy Project and Blockers producer David Stassen which he’s also writing. Happy Life follows new mom Allison Beck (Lilly) who suspects her workaholic husband Eli (Barinholtz) is having an affair with an Instagram star (Daddario). One mistake after another leads her into the arms of a younger man as she struggles to come to terms with her life decisions as she strays farther from her perfect, responsible super-mom self. Production starts in September.

Daddario can next be seen in CBS’s fall premiere series Why Women Kill opposite Ginnifer Goodwin and Lucy Liu. She’s also starring in Highland’s Marc Meyer thriller We Summon the Darkness opposite Johnny Knoxville. Daddario also stars and executive produced Elise Duran’s upcoming romantic comedy Can You Keep a Secret? based on the novel by Sophie Kinsella. She has starred opposite Dwayne Johnson in the near half billion summer blockbuster hit San Andreas as well as Baywatch. Daddario is repped by UTA and Untitled Entertainment.

Stassen and Barinholtz are also serving as producers alongside Andrew Robinson and Aperture Media Productions. Highland Film is handling international sales and UTA Independent Film Group is handling the US sale. The Highland Film Group sales titles also include the Nicolas Cage movie Jiu Jitsu, Persephone with Mary-Louise Parker and Brianna Hildebrand; the Kevin James and Lulu Wilson feature BeckyTrauma Center starring Bruce Willis; Michael Polish’s Axis Sally starring Al Pacino among many others.

By Anthony D’Alessandro, Deadline


EXCLUSIVE: Kevin James, who rose to success via comedies from CBS’ long-running The King of Queens to films like Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Grown Ups, is flipping the script. He has come aboard the action thriller Becky, where he is set to play the baddie opposite Annabelle: Creation and The Haunting of Hill House star Lulu Wilson.

James replaces Simon Pegg, who had been attached to the villain role in the pic from Yale Productions and BoulderLight Pictures. Producers cited a scheduling conflict as the reason for Pegg’s exit.

The pic, being directed by Bushwick helmers Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion from a script by Nick Morris, Ruckus Skye and Lane Skye, centers on rebellious 14-year-old Becky (Wilson) as she’s brought to a weekend getaway at a lake house by her father in an effort to try to reconnect after her mother’s death. The trip takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts on the run, led by the merciless Dominick (James), suddenly invade the lake house. Becky, not daddy’s little girl anymore, decides to take matters into her own hands.

Yale Productions’ Jordan Yale Levine, Jordan Beckerman and Russ Posternak are producing with BoulderLight’s Raphael Margules and J.D. Lifshitz. Highland Film Group kicked off international sales this spring in Cannes, and UTA Independent Film Group is repping domestic rights.

James, who returned to TV comedy in 2016 with CBS’ Kevin Can Wait, which lasted two seasons, most recently reprised his Frankenstein voice role in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. He is repped by UTA, Jeff Sussman Management and Schreck Rose Dapello.

By Patrick Hipes, Deadline


NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – A veteran Hollywood movie producer said Saturday that Cyprus’ aspirations to become an international film destination hinge on whether authorities can deliver on a pledge to provide cash rebates and tax exemptions to filmmakers.

Martin Barab said that his new, $27.5 million-film “Jiu Jitsu” currently being filmed in Cyprus is “make-or-break” for the east Mediterranean island nation’s nascent film industry.

“This little movie had to create the film industry in Cyprus. So they are building a film industry on our back,” Barab told The Associated Press.

“Jiu Jitsu” which stars Academy Award-winning actor Nicolas Cage, Frank Grillo and Tony Jaa is the first film being made in Cyprus under the country’s new financial incentives scheme that includes case rebates and tax credits of up to 35% as well as a sales tax exemption.

Cyprus launched its drive to attract filmmakers last year, adopting the moniker “Olivewood.”

Barab said he expects Cypriot authorities to live up to their promise and that would pave the way to more film productions choosing Cyprus.

He warned that if Cypriot authorities don’t follow through, “it would crush the business here forever.”

“Jiu Jitsu” director Dimitri Logothetis praised the financial incentives scheme for helping filmmakers “make the kind of pictures that we want to make … that are fun and entertaining.”

Cage said he was drawn to the film for its combination of the action and sci-fi genres he said he has admired and grew up on.

“Yeah, I mean I’m eclectic,” he told the AP. “And I like to do all kinds of movies and express myself in multiple ways so this was interesting for me.”

Cage said Cyprus exuded a “good spirit” for him, a quality he says he seeks out in all locations where he films and which “informs his performance.”

“I’ve been I felt like some good energy on the set,” said Cage.

Based on the comic book of the same name that was written by Logothetis, “Jiu Jitsu” pits an ancient order of martial artists against an alien invader to save the earth.

By Associated Press


The Jiu Jitsu battle just got bigger. Tony JaaFrank GrilloRick YuneMarie Avgeropoulos and JuJu Chan have joined the martial arts actioner starring Nicolas Cage and Alain Moussi from writer-director-producer Dimitri Logothetis.

Here’s how it plays out: Every six years, an ancient order of expert Jiu Jitsu fighters faces a vicious alien in a battle to protect Earth. For thousands of years, the fighters that protect Earth have played by the rules…until now. When celebrated war hero Jake Barnes (Moussi) is defeated by Brax, the Alien invader, the future of humanity hangs in the balance. Injured and suffering from amnesia, Jake is rescued by Wylie (Cage), Keung (Jaa), Harrigan (Grillo) and his team of fellow Jiu Jitsu fighters. They must help Jake to regain his strength in order to band together and defeat Brax in an epic battle that will once again determine the fate of mankind.

Logothetis and Jim McGrath wrote the pic based on the comic book, Martin Barab is producing alongside Logothetis. other character and role details weren’t available.

Jaa starred in the Ong-Bak films, and his credits also include Furious 7 and xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Grillo has appeared as Brock Rumlow/Crossbones in multiple Marvel pics including Avengers: Endgameand in last year’s Toronto opener Donnybrook. Yune’s recent credits include Alita: Battle Angel, Olympus Has Fallen, and TV’s Prison Break and Marco Polo. Avgeropoulos is a regular on CW drama The 100, and starred in films including Tracers and A Remarkable Life. Chan appeared in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, has a key role in the upcoming Netflix series Wu Assassins and next appears in Chinese action pic The Invincible Dragon.

Jaa is repped by the Gersh Agency, Zero Gravity and attorney Dave Feldman. Grillo is with CAA, Management 360 and attorneys Erik Hyman at Paul Hastings. Yune is repped by Paradigm, Avgeropoulos by UTA and Chan by Gersh Agency and Goodman Schenkman & Brecheen.

Highland Film Group kicked off worldwide sales for Jiu Jitsu at AFM. Production begin on June 24.

By Erik Pedersen, Deadline


Highland Film Group is handling International sales on the thriller, also starring Simon Pegg.

Lily Collins is armed and dangerous in this exclusive first look image from Vaughn Stein’s Inheritance.

Also starring Simon Pegg, the high-stakes thriller follows Lauren Monroe (Collins), a prominent family woman and rising star in the New York District Attorney’s office, whose perfect life falls of the tracks following the death of her hedge fund tycoon father. When most of the family’s fortune is left to her mother and politician brother, Lauren receives only a small fraction of their millions along with a mysterious envelope containing directions to a hidden bunker deep in the woods. Inside the bunker, Lauren discovers an emaciated man on the brink of death, Morgan (Pegg), secretly imprisoned by her father for the last 30 years. Unsure of what to do next, Lauren quietly nurses Morgan back to health in the bunker so she can begin to unravel the incomprehensible situation her father left behind. 

Matthew Kennedy penned the script, with Richard B. Lewis (The Space Between UsAugust Rush) producing through his Southpaw Entertainment banner alongside David Wulf (The Night Clerk), and Convergent Media’s Dan Reardon and Santosh Govindaraju (The Night Clerk). UTA and Highland Film Group are co-repping the U.S. rights with Highland Film Group handling foreign sales.

The film marks HFG’s second collaboration with Stein, previously partnering on Terminal, which was released in 2018.

By Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter

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