Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In what amounts to the last major film to emerge from the Toronto Film Festival with a distribution deal, Magnolia has acquired To The Wonder, the Terrence Malick-directed film that stars Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem. Magnolia will release it in a multi-platform strategy that starts with a theatrical release in 2013.

Affleck plays an American, Neil, who falls in love with a Ukranian girl Marina (Kurylenko) he meets in Paris, and asks her to return with him to Oklahoma to start a life together. While Marina and Neil can’t connect in her new home, she makes the acquaintance of a priest and fellow exile (Bardem) who is struggling with his vocation, while Neil renews a relationship with a childhood sweetheart, Jane (McAdams). The film will be marketed by Magnolia as an exploration of love in its many forms.

The film, which premiered in Venice, polarized the Toronto crowd. It was described as a very personal film for Malick, who made it far quicker than the time he usually takes between films. Malick’s pictures are something of an acquired taste ( I love ‘em), but this didn’t get the rousing reaction that his last film, The Tree Of Life, received when it premiered at Cannes en route to a Best Picture Oscar nomination. For that reason, Magnolia seems a good home for Malick’s latest, which will require some care and customization that Magnolia’s collapsing window strategy can provide. It’ll be released first in theaters, but I think the film would struggle in a wider theatrical release plan.

The film is produced by Sarah Green and Nicolas Gonda, who along with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki collaborated with Malick on Tree Of Life and The New World. FilmNation’s Glen Basner is executive producer, along with Jason Krigsfeld and Joseph Krigsfeld of Brothers K Productions.

“It is an honor and a dream come true to be working with Terrence Malick, one of our greatest living filmmakers,” Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said in a statement after confirming Deadline’s scoop. “To The Wonder is a romantic, haunting and beautiful film that will be endlessly rewarding for movie lovers.”

Green and Gonda, speaking on behalf of the Malick team, said: “We are excited to partner with Magnolia for the release of To The Wonder. Magnolia has become a destination for the work of some of the world’s most innovative and talented directors, and we are proud to align with this forward-thinking team.”

The deal was negotiated by CAA and Magnolia SVP Acquisitions Dori Begley.