Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Focus Features has been scratched before getting to the start gate on Lay The Favorite, but I’m told that Pathe and Emmett Furla Films have come to the rescue as co-financiers. Not only that, but Catherine Zeta-Jones is in talks to join a film now set to begin production in April. The movie adaptation of the Beth Raymer gambling memoir already had Stephen Frears ready to direct Bruce Willis and The Town‘s Rebecca Hall.

As Deadline originally revealed, that cast was set by Focus Features through its co-financing joint venture with Random House Films. But the film came in at a $20 million budget, which didn’t make sense for Focus. Random House, Pathe and Emmett Furla partners Randall Emmett and George Furla have cash-flowed the picture. Anthony Bregman’s Likely Story, Emmett Furla and Ruby Films’ Paul Trijbits  are producing. Curtis Jackson be exec producer. Pathe will sell international territories and take UK and France. Emmett Furla Films has domestic distribution rights, which they’ll sell through CAA. Zeta-Jones will play the wife of a legendary gambler (Willis). Hall plays a young woman who becomes involved with the guy as he figures out how to gain an edge on the Vegas sports book system. Zeta-Jones is repped by WME. The picture was originally going to shoot in New York and Vegas, but it’ll skip Gotham and start in New Orleans because that was financially favorable. D.V. De Vincentis wrote the script and is also producing.

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