Fox picked up Brian Duffield's spec Underwater, a thriller following a crew after an earthquake destroys their underwater station. Fox also bought Ascension, a sci-fi spec written by Shannon Triplett focusing on a scientist after Earth's gravity disappears. Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) to possibly produce and direct. Focus Features acquired Matt King's drama/thriller spec Boomtown about a sinister criminal conspiracy in North Dakota oil boom country. And New Line optioned Gregg Rossen and Brian Sawyer's female-driven heist spec Met Gala Heist.
Other script sales:
– Dennis Kelly to pen the sequel to World War Z, based on an earlier draft by Steven Knight.
– Olivia Milch has been tapped to write an all-female remake of Ocean's Eleven. George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh to produce, Gary Ross to direct, and Sandra Bullock to potentially star.
– 42 to produce the thriller In Darkness, written by Anthony Byrne and Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer. Dormer to star, Byrne to direct.
– Universal picked up Ori Guendelmann and Rob McClelland's 2015 Blood List script Bump.
– Bryce Kass' Lizzie Borden script found a home at The Playtone Company and Artina Films. Will feature Kristen Stewart and Chloe Sevigny.
– Paramount picked up Luna Park, a sci-fi heist script by Jason Fuchs. Doug Liman will direct. Tom Cruise to star.
The Library – Produced Scripts
Ex Machina feels like an anomaly: it's a tense, effects-driven sci-fi film made on an indie budget without an action sequence in sight. In his directorial debut, writer/director Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd) borrows from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Frankenstein, the myth of Prometheus, and Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" to create a unique, visually stunning film that is as thought-provoking as it is beautiful to look at. The movie follows Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson), a computer programmer tasked with studying a humanoid robot with artificial intelligence, Ava (Alicia Vikander), and determining whether she's sufficiently human. Garland adds an element of mystery to the plot, with Ava's creator Nathan (Oscar Isaac) manipulating Caleb throughout, and once Nathan's manipulations become clear, the film's central question morphs from "How human is Ava?" to "Who's deceiving whom, and to what extent?" The latter question is the one that ultimately drives the film's tension.
Like all great stories in the genre, the typical sci-fi themes prove to be a ruse--in fact, questions of Ava's humanity may not even be questions the audience needs to ask. Instead, Ex Machina is more interested in issues of gender and objectification than philosophical ideas that have been discussed for millennia. The movie's greatest strength is its ending, which suggests that Garland himself manipulated us into identifying and empathizing with the wrong character from the beginning. Without revealing too much, it decisively (and divisively) subverts the "damsel in distress" and "knight in shining armor" tropes and recontextualizes the film's narrative, forcing us to reconsider everything that's come before it. But most importantly, it's the only possible ending. Any other would have been detrimental to the themes Garland spent the entire script building.
The script itself shows how much information is actually necessary to tell a story. Garland limits the backstory and exposition, and he streamlined and truncated the little that appears in the script for the filmed version. As a result, Garland lets the audience fill in the blanks and never talks down, even when the characters are discussing algorithms, robotics, and artificial intelligence. He simply provides the information that's needed and moves on, trusting the audience can and will follow.
Ex Machina is necessary viewing not only for diehard sci-fi fans but also for those who enjoy character-driven stories that provide insight into the human condition.
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