Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: New Regency is in talks to co-finance and distribute (through its output deal with 20th Century Fox) the Steve McQueen-directed Twelve Years A Slave, an adaptation of the Solomon Northup memoir originally published in 1853. Chiwetel Ejiofor will play Northup, and Michael Fassbender will reunite with Shame director McQueen. Fassbender will play a plantation owner. Brad Pitt will play a Northern lawyer who helps free Northup and he and his Plan B banner will produce the film.

Northup was born free but after signing on with two men claiming to be circus promoters who wanted him for his violin skills, Northup was drugged and awoke in a slave pen in DC. He was forced to claim he had been born a slave in Georgia and was transported to Louisiana where he suffered the indignity of slavey and was often beaten brutally. After confiding in a white carpenter from Canada who came to the property to do a job, and who believed Northup’s story, Northup was able to get word to his wife back in New York, who was finally able to start the legal process that allowed Northup to regain the freedom that had been stolen from him.

The cast has been circling the $20 million movie since McQueen decided to direct it when his film Shame began garnering critical acclaim late last year. It was then a matter of CAA finding a way to fund it. River Road’s Bill Pohlad came on to provide a substantial piece of the financing and Summit sold international territories. Now, if the deal with New Regency closes–I hear it’s close to done–the pic becomes a reality with Regency joining Plan B and Pohlad as producers. Shooting starts late June in Louisiana.

It broadens Regency’s relationship with Plan B; New Regency recently came aboard to finance True Story, the Rupert Goold-directed adaptation of a memoir by Michael Finkel, a disgraced New York Times journalist who discovered that an accused murderer had stolen his identity. Once caught, the fugitive would only talk to the journalist. Jonah Hill is playing Finkel and James Franco is set to play Christian Longo, who was captured in Mexico after rising near the top of the FBI Ten Most Wanted List for allegedly killing his family. Production will begin in July and Fox will distribute. Dave Kajganich wrote the script.

Regency and Plan B are also teamed on The Gray Man, a star vehicle for Pitt based on the Mark Greaney novel that was scripted by Adam Cozad, with Plan B and Shine Pictures producing.

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