EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Working Title are teaming with Emmett/Furla Films on Everest, a mountain climbing disaster film that The Deep helmer Baltasar Kormakur will direct, with Christian Bale in talks to star. Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will produce with WT’s Liza Chasin, along with Evan Hayes. Emmett/Furla’s Randall Emmett and George Furla are in discussions to co-finance the film and join in a producing capacity as well. Justin Isbell wrote the most recent script draft.
Bale is in early talks to star in a tale based on the 1996 disastrous expedition to scale Mount Everest. Three different expeditions were hit by a sudden blinding storm and by the time it was all over, eight climbers died. The tale was first made famous by Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, his first-person account of being among the lucky ones to make it back down the mountain. This film will be sourced from various books and interviews with survivors.
There is another studio film entitled Everest, the one at Sony Pictures that has Doug Liman attached to direct a Sheldon Turner adaptation of the Jeffrey Archer book. That film is same mountain, different tale, as Tom Hardy is attached to play Sir George Mallory in his quest to be the first to the top of Everest in the 1920s.
Kormakur seems a strong match for what will be a rugged shoot. He’s coming off The Deep, an Icelandic fact-based drama that was shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and which told the story of one man’s unbelievable ordeal of being the lone survivor after a fishing vessel went down in icy waters. Everyone else perished from hypothermia and drowning, but one man swam for hours until he reached the shore, in temperatures no human should have been able to survive. Shooting the film was a cold and harrowing experience as well.
Kormakur made his Hollywood debut at Universal helming the Mark Wahlberg-starrer Contraband, a remake of Kormakur’s Reykjavik-Rotterdam. He most recently directed 2 Guns, the drama that stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. That film is also co-financed by Emmett/Furla in partnership with Universal. Emmett/Furla is separately engaged with Universal as the financier of Lone Survivor, the Peter Berg-directed adaptation of the Marcus Luttrell memoir about how Luttrell and his Navy SEAL team members fought to stay alive after being ambushed in Afghanistan in 2005 by Taliban forces during a covert mission in the Hindu Kush mountain region, where the team went to kill a terrorist leader. Universal will release that film.
Emmett/Furla was also backer of Motor City, a drama that had its plug pulled abruptly last year. There have been reports of lawsuits and when I asked Emmett about this after I’d heard about Everest, he would only say it was an unfortunate byproduct of a film being postponed close to its start date and that the situation is playing itself out.
Universal SVP Production Erik Baiers is shepherding Everest. Bale is repped by WME and attorney Carlos Goodman, Kormakur is repped by WME, Management 360 and manager Peter Nelson, and Isbell is repped by CAA and Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment.