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Friday, June 21, 2024

Chris Pratt Movie ‘Way Of Warrior Kid’ Sells To Skydance In Big Deal


EXCLUSIVE: In-between its months-long pursuit of Paramount, Skydance has found time to make what we understand to be an $80-$85M global deal for Chris Pratt Cannes package The Way Of The Warrior Kid.

We make this the single biggest package deal out of a film market since Apple splashed on Emancipation back in 2020. UTA Independent Film Group brokered the deal.

As we revealed ahead of last month’s Cannes market, Jurassic World star Pratt is teaming with director McG (Charlie’s Angels, The Babysitter) on the in-demand project, which is lining up a summer start. The Will Staples (Without Remorse) script is adapted from the kids novel by Jock Willink, the retired Navy SEAL who found a second career as a wildly popular podcast host, author and motivational speaker. Additional casting is in process. Skydance will bring the project to Apple through its overall deal there.

The youth empowerment tale follows a self-doubting boy who gets bullied and is hard pressed to complete a single pull-up. That’s until his uncle Jake, an elite Navy SEAL, is injured on a mission and moves in with his sister for rehab. When he discovers his 11-year-old nephew Marc is struggling academically, socially and physically, Jake takes on a new mission: using his SEAL Team training over three months of summer to help the youth find his inner warrior.

Although the kid learns about swimming, math, exercise, health, and fighting, the book isn’t only about those things. It’s as much about what can be achieved with focus and discipline and how to overcome fears, stand up for oneself, solve problems and develop confidence.

Skydance saw the project early and were hot on it even before it hit the Croisette (the company itself wasn’t on the Riviera). A lot of indie buyers wanted the film and domestic distributors made plays but Skydance’s global offer was too much to turn down [net budget will be below the winning bid] and there was always an expectation that this one could get a worldwide deal. FilmNation was aboard for international sales.

Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible backer Skydance will produce alongside McG and Mary Viola for Wonderland Sound and Vision, Ben Everard for Everard Entertainment, Jocko Willink, and Pratt for Indivisible Productions.

“Will Staples’ screenplay is incredible,” Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers and Jurassic World star Pratt told Deadline last month. “I’ve known Jocko Willink for a couple of years, so I was eager to read the script based on his series of children’s books. I believe in the power of storytelling and felt particularly called to the material. I have faith this film will help to shape today’s youth, putting them on the right path. Our young people need this movie. Making films like this is why I created Indivisible Productions. In a world that feels divided, I believe it’s crucial to remember that we are one nation, and I hope this story will help bridge the growing divide and inspire the next generation to learn valuable lessons about discipline, self-reliance, strength, and compassion. This is the kind of movie that can define a generation, like Karate Kid or Rocky. As a dad, this is the kind of movie I want to show my kids. So, with the help of an incredible creative team and the right partner, we’re gonna make it.

“What I feel especially drawn to with my character, Jake, is the opportunity to portray a character that seems to be missing in contemporary pop culture, as well as in the lives of so many young people: a mindful portrayal of healthy masculinity,” Pratt added. “Jake uses fundamental principles he learned in the Navy SEALs to teach his nephew to gain confidence in himself, as well as to grow mentally and physically stronger in order to overcome adversity such as dealing with bullies, improving grades at school, and more. I have close family members and friends who served in the military, including my older brother, who has had a huge impact on my life. So, I always feel especially drawn to stories like this that inspire us to face our fears and become stronger mentally and physically.”

As for Willink, he found a second career guiding adults, and that is how he became friendly with Pratt. He decided to write a YA book after the ones he read to his own children came up wanting.

“I spent my adult life in the military,” the author told Deadline last month. “I was in the SEAL Teams, deployed all over the place, went up through the chain of command, and was lucky to have had a blessed career. That whole time, I also had a wife and four kids. I wanted to read them books and I would go to the store or to the library and I just couldn’t find any that I liked. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a pirate book. And it was filled with the weakest, most pathetic pirates I’d ever heard of in my life.”

He continued: “So I started writing and publishing these kids’ books to give them value and some direction, and suddenly I’m getting letters and emails and handwritten notes from kids all over the world, who did their first pull up or entered their first jujitsu competition, or memorized all the presidents. These are all things that are in the books.”

Willink invested his own money to hire Staples, who is known for adapting the Tom Clancy SEAL tale Without Remorse.

David Ellison’s Skydance has an upcoming live-action film slate including Heart of Stone, Spy Kids: Armageddon and The Old Guard 2 for Netflix as well as The Family Plan, The Gorge, Fountain of Youth and Mayday for Apple TV+ and the next Mission: Impossible.

McG is also known as an exec producer on hit TV series including The O.C., Supernatural and Chuck.

The Skydance deal cements what was a pretty vibrant Cannes across the board in terms of deal-making. Talks are ongoing on a number of packages and festival titles.

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