The Way Back, Peter Weir’s first film since 2003′s Master and Commander, has come off the board as an acquisition title before it screens in Telluride. Newmarket acquired U.S. rights and will distribute the film next January. It doesn’t exactly count as a real acquisition, since Newmarket is owned by Exclusive Media Group, which financed a film that was shopped for a long time. The cast is strong but the subject matter grueling. Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess and Saoirse Ronan star in the fact-based tale of prisoners who escape from a Siberian gulag and walk all the way to Tibet, and freedom.
It will be very interesting to see such tough subject matter in the hands of an iconic filmmaker like Weir, who has shown mastery on tough subjects in films like Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously. Just as it will be interesting to see what Danny Boyle does with 127 Hours, where James Franco plays Aron Ralston, the hiker who was forced to cut off his arm after it was pinned for days under a boulder, and who then walked down the mountain and lived to tell about it.
Newmarket also acquired and will release through early next year prestige festival pickups Agora, Creation and Hesher. The indie community is hoping Newmarket can reestablish itself as a formidable distribution company–its past successes under other regimes include The Passion of the Christ, Memento and The Prestige–and those questions should be answered soon enough.