Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In what shapes up as the first major acquisition of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, The Weinstein Company is near a deal to acquire U.S. and multiple international territories on The Artist, a black-and-white silent film that is written and produced by Michel Hazanavicius. The picture premieres in competition on Sunday, but I’m told several buyers chased the rights through Wild Bunch. The deal is low-seven-figure minimum guarantee, and the plan is to release the film later this year during the Oscar race.

The pic stars Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Missi Pyle and Penelope Ann Miller. The pic takes place in 1927 Hollywood and focuses on a silent movie star whose career seems about to be ended because of the arrival of the talkies. At the same time, a pretty young extra sees the new format as an opportunity to launch her star. No official confirmation was forthcoming from The Weinstein Company. The film was a late entry to the Cannes competition but the first to make a sales splash.

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