Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has set a May 11, 2012 worldwide release date for the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator. The studio has reunited Baron Cohen with his Borat and Bruno director Larry Charles. Baron Cohen is producing with Scott Rudin, Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel. This is the project that Deadline first revealed last April, when the former Seinfeld writers Berg Schaffer and Mandel went around town with Baron Cohen to pitch it. We knew Baron Cohen was going to play dual roles of a dictator and a goat herder, but now there’s a logline: “The film tells the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed. It is inspired by the best selling novel, Zabibah and The King, by Saddam Hussein.”

Four studios chased the project when it was first shopped, but when it got down to two studios, Paramount made its serious intentions known by dispatching two goats (wearing Paramount logo T-shorts) to visit both Baron Cohen and his WME reps. The studio won the deal by committing to make the movie (and paying Baron Cohen $20 million). Despite that, the picture is budgeted at $58 million and Paramount executives love the script.