EXCLUSIVE: Amazon MGM Studios has just landed a big sci-fi film package it is setting a global theatrical release for in Mercy, starring Chris Pratt, directed by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Oscar-nominated producer Charles Roven. I understand the deal closed in the past week with a spring start of production planned.
The project puts Pratt back in business with Amazon, which acquired his Skydance movie The Tomorrow War from Paramount and turned into a big Prime Video hit during the pandemic. He also has the series The Terminal List on Prime. The movie also reps a reunion for Pratt and Bekmambetov, who both worked on the latter’s 2008 Hollywood directorial debut Wanted, a $342 million-grossing, Oscar-nominated blockbuster based on Mark Millar’s comic book.
More from Deadline
Written by Marco van Belle (Arthur & Merlin), Mercy is set in the near future when capital crime has increased. The pic follows a detective (Pratt) who is accused of a violent crime and forced to prove his innocence.
Roven, who just received a second Best Picture Oscar nomination for Oppenheimer, will produce Mercy under his Atlas Entertainment along with the label’s SVP Robert Amidon as part of the production team alongside Bekmambetov with his production banner BEL’s executive Majd Nassif.
Mercy is the first in a series of titles that Amazon MGM Studios is greenlighting for theatrical distribution. In their vast slate, similar to other studios, some movies are released for the big screen, while others are designated for Prime Video.
“From the moment Chuck Roven brought us Mercy and we read Marco van Belle’s script, we knew the film was meant for the big screen,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon MGM Studios. “As our relationship with The Terminal List and The Tomorrow War’s Chris Pratt continues to extend across film, we can’t wait to watch him bring this action-packed story to life, guided by Chuck and the vision of director Timur Bekmambetov. We could not imagine a better star and filmmaking team to execute on and deliver what is sure to be a gripping thrill ride and look forward to audiences being able to experience it in theaters.”
“I could not be more thrilled to partner with Amazon MGM Studios on the release of Mercy,” said Roven. “I have a longstanding working relationship with both motion picture and marketing chiefs Courtenay Valenti and Sue Kroll— whom have institutional knowledge of theatrical and proven track records of success at the box office. I am looking forward to reuniting with them in this new capacity, along with Jen Salke and the rest of the terrific team at Amazon MGM.”
“Amazon is the ideal partner for telling this crucial story about the future challenged by artificial intelligence and for engaging in this conversation with a wide audience,” said Bekmambetov. “I’m happy to reunite with Chris Pratt on this project, who, since the release of ‘Wanted,’ has become one of the highest-grossing actors of our time. Collaborating with Chuck Roven will help us create an epic cinematic experience.”
Bekmambetov broke out with the cult Russian fantasy epic Night Watch (2004), which grossed over $50 million worldwide. His innovations in digital filmmaking earned Bekmambetov’s production company BEL a place in Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative video companies in the world in 2021.
Roven’s blockbuster cannon counts some $11 billion-plus in global box office with such hits as The Dark Knight Trilogy, Oppenheimer, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Wonder Woman. His Atlas Entertainment is led by himself and producing partner Alex Gartner.
Oppenheimer was recently nominated for 13 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Christopher Nolan. Upcoming, Atlas is producing John Woo’s The Killer, a reimagining of the director’s 1989 film of the same name, for Universal Pictures.
As Mercy further expands Pratt’s relationship with Amazon MGM, Prime Video has a second season of The Terminal List and also ordered the prequel The Terminal List: Dark Wolf, which will also star Taylor Kitsch, to series.
Van Belle is an Irish writer-director whose award-winning shorts have screened at festivals globally. He directed his first feature, Arthur & Merlin, a medieval fantasy, in 2015. Writing-wise, he broke into the U.S. market setting up Clandestine with thefyzz and more recently sold his original spec, Surveillance, to Voltage Pictures.
Pratt is represented by UTA, Rise Management, and Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern. Bekmambetov is represented by WME. Roven is represented by WME and attorney Michael Schenkman. Belle is represented by Paradigm, Zero Gravity Management and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller & Hoberman.
At the box office, Amazon MGM has the David Ayer-directed, Jason Statham-starring action thriller The Beekeeper, which has racked up north of $77M at the global B.O. They also have the five-time BAFTA Film Award nominee Saltburn, which is among Prime Video’s top 10 worldwide film debuts and has grossed more than $20 million globally. Its TIFF People’s Choice Award winner American Fiction just nabbed five Oscar noms including Best Picture, while the George Clooney’s sports drama The Boys in the Boat was a breakout for a drama over the holidays with adults with north of $45M domestic. The company’s Ben Affleck directed dramedy Air was a notable Easter film for adults, while Creed III is the biggest movie in for that Rocky spinoff franchise with $276M-plus. Also with a domestic start of $58.6M, it repped the highest debut ever for a sports movie.
Upcoming is Luca Guadagnino’s Zendaya-led Challengers, which will hit theaters April 26. Also, the Dwayne Johnson-Chris Evans Christmas movie Red One will get a theatrical release November 15.
Best of Deadline