Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: As distributors line their coffers with big films for Cannes, Focus Features has grabbed one, acquiring worldwide rights to Black Sea, an adventure thriller that Kevin Macdonald will direct with Jude Law starring. It’s contemporary, and Law will play a submarine captain who is laid off by a salvage company and makes a deal with a shadowy backer to look for a storied sunken sub reputed to be loaded with gold at the bottom of the Black Sea. Since this find would get him even with his ex-bosses, he puts together a crew of English and Russian sailors for the task, taking off to uncharted depths with his motley crew. The closer they get to the prize, the riskier it becomes to trust one another.

Law just starred for Focus Features in Anna Karenina. Film 4 developed, co-produced and is co-financing Black Sea with Focus, and Macdonald has committed to make it next. Macdonald, who helmed the Oscar-winning docu One Day In September and Touching the Void, and who directed The Last King Of Scotland and State Of Play and The Eagle, last helmed the Saoirse Ronan/Tom Holland-starrer How I Live Now and the docu Marley. Focus holds worldwide rights — excluding the U.K. free-TV rights held by Film4, and international sales will begin at Cannes. Macdonald and Charles Steel are producing. Dennis Kelly, who recently authored the book of the acclaimed stage musical adaptation of Matilda, is writing the Black Sea script.

Add Black Sea to the Tarsem-directed Ryan Reynolds-starrer Selfless and the Olivier Assayas-directed Sils Maria with Juliette Binoche/Mia Wasikowska (IFC prebought domestic rights) as star-driven films that should catch the fancy of offshore distributors in a couple weeks on the Croisette.

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