Here’s our first look at Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb, the real-life journalist who wound up on the business end of an ugly CIA smear campaign. The Pulitzer winner reported on the agency’s alleged involvement in launching America’s crack epidemic, reporting that it was aware of major dealers who were smuggling cocaine into the U.S., and using the profits to arm Nicaraguan rebels. Director Michael Cuesta‘s Kill The Messenger also stars Rosemarie DeWitt, Ray Liotta, Tim Blake Nelson, Barry Pepper, Oliver Platt, Michael Sheen, Paz Vega, Michael Kenneth Williams, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Andy Garcia. Peter Landesman wrote the script for the thriller, which Focus Features will release October 10. Check it out:
Focus Features said today that Kill The Messenger will get a platform release on October 10, 2014, and expand the following two weekends. Jeremy Renner stars as Gary Webb, the Pulitzer-winner journalist who uncovered a CIA link to coke trafficking in the U.S. as a way to funnel money to the Nicaraguan Contras. Webb was subsequently discredited by a smear campaign which ruined him and he eventually committed suicide. Michael Cuesta directed the pic written by Peter Landesman. The cast includes Ray Liotta, Barry Pepper, Josh Close, Rosemarie DeWitt, Andy Garcia, Lucas Hedges, Tim Blake Nelson, Robert Patrick, Oliver Platt, Michael Sheen, Paz Vega, Michael Kenneth Williams and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Focus picked up worldwide rights ahead of the 2013 Berlin Film Festival.
Amid last year’s shake-up at Focus Features, the group’s international sales arm was shuttered. Focus is now turning to Nick Meyer’s Sierra/Affinity to handle rights outside North America on select titles from the company. The formalized relationship will complement the activities of Universal Pictures International, which distributes Universal and Focus movies internationally. The new tie-up had been expected, notably after Sierra/Affinity took over Mike Flanagan’s Oculus and follow-up, Somnia, at the AFM, both of which were previously with Focus Features International. The relationship with Focus and Sierra/Affinity kicks off at this EFM where the latter will service existing licensing and distribution agreements on Kevin Macdonald’s Black Sea and Jeremy Renner-starrer Kill The Messenger, a hot property for FFI last Berlin. Click over for more details on the new pact: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Ray Liotta has signed on to play a pivotal role in Kill The Messenger, the Michael Cuesta-directed drama about Gary Webb, the journalist who bared a CIA link to coke trafficking in the US as a way to funnel money to the Nicaraguan Contras. Webb was subsequently discredited by a smear campaign which ruined him and he eventually committed suicide. Jeremy Renner plays Webb, and Liotta will play a retired CIA agent who is secretly interviewed by the journalist and who corroborates the CIA’s involvement. Liotta most recently starred in The Iceman and The Place Beyond The Pines. He’ll next be seen in The Identical with Ashley Judd, Muppets Most Wanted and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. He is repped by UTA and Untitled.
EXCLUSIVE: Having just signed on to two new indie roles earlier this month, Mary Elizabeth Winstead has further added to her dance card and joined the Michael Cuesta-helmed Kill The Messenger. The actress will play Dawn Garcia in the true-story thriller about journalist Gary Webb and his suicide after being smeared for stories he wrote linking the CIA to a scheme to arm Contra rebels in Nicaragua and import cocaine into California. Winstead’s character is the editor of the San Jose Mercury News, where Webb worked. The Avengers’ Jeremy Renner plays Webb. Rosemarie DeWitt is also in the film as is Barry Pepper. Peter Landesman wrote the screenplay for the pic, to which Focus Features picked up worldwide rights ahead of Berlin. Scott Stuber’s Bluegrass Films is producing with Landesman, Renner and Naomi Despres. Winstead is repped by WME, Anonymous Content, and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein.
Related: Barry Pepper Joins Jeremy Renner Pic ‘Kill The Messenger’
Fresh off roles in The Lone Ranger and Snitch, Barry Pepper has signed for Michael Cuesta’s fact-based pic about a CIA smear campaign that led to a Pulitzer-winning journalist’s downfall. In Kill The Messenger, Pepper will play federal prosecutor Russell Dodson, who is tasked with keeping a lid on the agency’s connection to the massive influx of cocaine into the U.S. by Nicaraguan contras. He tries to prevent investigative reporter Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) from running a series of newspaper articles about the case. Focus Features picked up worldwide rights to the pic ahead of Berlin. Production starts Monday in Atlanta. Pepper, whose credits range from Saving Private Ryan to playing Dale Earnhardt in a TV biopic to True Grit, is repped by the Kohner Agency and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.
EXCLUSIVE: Rosemarie DeWitt is in final negotiations to play the female lead in Kill The Messenger, the true-story thriller about journalist Gary Webb, a San Jose Mercury News reporter who committed suicide after being the target of a smear campaign when he linked the CIA to a scheme to arm Contra rebels in Nicaragua and import cocaine into California. Jeremy Renner will play Webb, and Michael Cuesta is directing the Peter Landesman script. Focus Features acquired the pic in February and is releasing it worldwide. Rehearsals start next month. Landesman, Renner’s shingle The Combine, Scott Stuber’s Bluegrass Films and Naomi Despres are producing. On the film side, DeWitt recently starred opposite Matt Damon and John Krasinski in Focus’ Promised Land and in the Sundance pic Touch Feely from writer-director Lynn Shelton, starring as a massage therapist who suddenly develops an aversion to human touch. DeWitt is repped by CAA and Wishlab Inc.
Submarine Entertainment has sold all distribution rights to Paul Bowles: The Cage Door Is Always Open to First Run Features in the U.S. and Films We Like in Canada. The deals were negotiated by David Koh, Dan Braun and Josh Braun of Submarine along with Executive Producer, Stanley Buchthal of Dakota Group Ltd. along with Marc Mauceri & Seymour Wishman of First Run Features and Ron Mann of Films We Like. First Run Features and Films We Like will coordinate a release later in the year. Directed by Daniel Young, the docu film is based on moving interviews given by the writer shortly before his death. It features Bowles and his wife writer Jane Bowles, Gore Vidal, John Waters, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ira Cohen, Edmund White, William Burroughs and Francis Bacon, among others. A HesseGreutert Film Production, Paul Bowles: The Cage Door Is Always Open is executive produced by This Brunner, Stanley Buchthal, Andres Bruetsch, and Simon Hesse. Read More »
We’re four days into the EFM and so far action has been fairly slow. But just this afternoon, The Weinstein Co. picked up U.S. rights to IM Global’s Blood Sisters: Vampire Academy, one of the hotter projects coming into the market. It’s not a given that the deal will kickstart further movement, but other projects understood to be generating domestic interest include Nicole Kidman-starrer Grace Of Monaco, repped by CAA, and Diana, with Naomi Watts, which Embankment is handling.
Other domestic deals include Sony Pictures Classics‘ acquisition of The Invisible Woman, a film to star Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones and Fiennes’ English Patient partner Kristin Scott Thomas. Fiennes also directs. And, The Weinstein Co. announced a deal for Wong Kar Wai’s opening night (out of competition) film The Grandmaster at the start of the fest. It’s fair to say that Berlin is not traditionally about the kind of big business that’s seen in Sundance, Toronto or Cannes. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE UPDATE, 9:30 AM: Just after Jeremy Renner and Homeland exec producer/director Michael Cuesta came aboard Kill The Messenger, the film has formalized a deal for Focus Features to take worldwide rights. Focus will distribute in the U.S., and Focus Features International’s Allison Thompson will sell foreign in Berlin this week. This development isn’t a shock, considering that Scott Stuber set it up years ago at his home studio Universal, and it is an excellent fit at Focus. The film is about journalist Gary Webb and how his mostly accurate investigative report on how the CIA helped introduce crack to California got the journalist smeared and fired. He eventually committed suicide.
EARLIER, JANUARY 31 PM: The movie packages are coming together on the eve of next week’s Berlin film market. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters star Jeremy Renner has been set to star in Kill The Messenger, a thriller that Michael Cuesta will direct that is based on the tragic tale of a journalist who committed suicide after being smeared by the CIA. The script was written by Peter Landesman. Cuesta seems perfect for this; he’s an exec producer and has directed numerous episodes of Homeland and has been integral in establishing the visual look of that show. He also helmed the pilots for Dexter and Elementary.
Scott Stuber, who set up this project eight years ago as producer at Universal, will be joined by Renner and Don Handfield, and it will be a co-production between Stuber’s Bluegrass and Renner’s The Combine. Naomi Despres is also producing. The film begins production in the summer. Read More »