EXCLUSIVE: In a low-seven-figure minimum guarantee deal, FilmDistrict has acquired U.S. rights to Only God Forgives, a drama that will reteam Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn with Ryan Gosling. Several distributors were in the mix, but FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel had an edge because Refn was pleased with the way FilmDistrict’s Bob Berney has set up the marketing for Drive. That film, which stars Gosling as a stunt driver who moonlights as the wheel man for a heist crew, played the Cannes Film Festival and drew raves. It will be released Sept. 16. Funded by Wild Bunch, Only God Forgives will shoot in late summer in Thailand, with Gosling playing a guy on the run from British police. He runs a Thai boxing club in Bangkok that is a front for a drug-smuggling operation. He winds up getting in the ring for a shot at redemption. Buyers this week read a script and started making offers this week. Gosling is next starring for his Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance in A Place Beyond the Pines and he’s also starring with Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Anthony Mackie in the Ruben Fleischer-directed Gangster Squad for Warner Bros. He’s also set to star for Refn in a remake of Logan’s Run at Warner Bros, where he’ll next be seen starring with Steve Carell and Julianne Moore in Crazy, Stupid, Love.
EXCLUSIVE: After starting the day by acquiring the Gerard Butler soccer comedy Playing the Field, FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel and Bob Berney are near a deal to acquire domestic rights to Arabian Nights, the Inferno Entertainment project that has Chuck Russell directing The Hunger Games’ star Liam Hemsworth. The film is in its formative stages, with Russell and Barry Ambrose co-writing the script. It’s an ambitious $60 million action film that Inferno is creating action on in the Cannes Festival market. (Inferno also is in pre-production on director Andrew Niccol’s The Host with Saoirse Ronan and in post on the Brad Pitt starrer Cogan’s Trade, Joe Carnahan’s The Grey and Killer Elite.) Meanwhile, FilmDistrict is being aggressive; its first two releases, Insidious and Soul Surfer, both scored at the box office.
Cannes, FRANCE (May 12, 2011) – FilmDistrict announced today the company has acquired all U.S. rights from Inferno Entertainment to ARABIAN NIGHTS, with Chuck Russell (The Mask, Scorpion King) set to direct and Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) set to star. Russell also co-wrote the screenplay with Barry Ambrose. Inferno’s Bill Johnson is producing the film with ROAR’s Will Ward and Jay Froberg, and Mayhem Pictures’ Mark Ciardi. Inferno’s Jim Seibel is executive producing. Inferno is handling worldwide sales of the film.
ARABIAN NIGHTS is a visually stunning 3-D retelling of the classic adventure tale about a bold, young commander (Hemsworth) who joins forces with Sinbad, Aladdin and his Genie to rescue Scheherazade and save her Kingdom from the dark powers of an immortal Sorcerer. The film weaves together weaves together several beloved tales and characters into a wild magic carpet ride for all ages.
“Chuck Russell’s film is entertainment on a grand scale,” says Peter Schlessel, CEO of FilmDistrict. “With its enchanting story and astonishing visuals, ARABIAN NIGHTS truly creates cinematic magic.”
EXCLUSIVE: Andrew Niccol has been set as the director of The Host, directing his scripted adaptation of the bestselling novel by Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer. The project, which is being shopped here at Cannes by Inferno Entertainment and producers Nick Wechsler and Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz, will star Saoirse Ronan.
After resisting overtures to sell the book, Meyer finally entrusted it with the producers, who gave her strong creative input. She chose Niccol originally because she was a fan of his film Gattaca and script for The Truman Show. While Niccol adapted the book into the current script, he exited to make the film Now, which he has completed with Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy starring. The producers went down the road with several directors, but talks with Niccol to return started heating up in recent weeks. Ronan ramped up interest in the film when she was set to star.
Ronan will play Melanie Stryder, one of the last humans putting up a fight against an alien species called Souls. These parasites invade human bodies, fuse to each person’s consciousness and systematically erase their personalities. The story follows Melanie as she is captured by the aliens and implanted by a Soul called Wanderer, something of a legend because of all of the “hosts” she has attached to on numerous planets. Wanderer’s goal is to get Melanie to give up the remaining pockets of humans, but instead the alien finds Melanie to be unique in her unwillingness to surrender her consciousness. Wanderer is so overwhelmed by Melanie’s memories and feelings that she is driven to reconnect with Melanie’s old life, which includes falling for Melanie’s boyfriend. The result is a complex, romantic and emotional human/alien love triangle.