IM Global will fully fund Hummingbird, an action drama that will mark the directing debut of Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight. Jason Statham will play a damaged ex-Special Forces soldier trapped in London’s criminal underworld, but he becomes an avenging angel when he is able to assume another identity. Shooting will begin in London early next year. Paul Webster and Tracey Seaward are producing. The film is budgeted at $20 million. “We had a great experience making Safe with Jason and we’re excited to team him with a director/producer team as sophisticated as Steven, Paul and Tracey,” said IM Global CEO Stuart Ford. The film has already sold in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Australia.
UPDATE 2, 7:03PM: CBS Films has just issued a press release confirming the acquisition:
TORONTO (September 12) – CBS Films announced today that they have acquired the U.S.distribution rights to SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN which made its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival this week. The announcement was made jointly today by CBS Films’ COO Wolfgang Hammer and EV Pof Acquisitions Scott Shooman.
Directed by Oscar©-nominee Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is an extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and politicalspinning, of unexpected heroism and late-blooming love and of an attempt toprove the impossible, possible. Ewan McGregor (Beginners) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) star in the feature film alongside Oscar©-nominee Kristen ScottThomas (I’ve Loved You So Long).
Based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is written by Oscar©-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and produced by Paul Webster (The Motorcycle Diaries) and executive produced by Jamie Laurenson, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa and Guy Avshalom.
“I am so happy to have the support of the team at CBS Films for the distribution of our labor of love, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. ’I had the best of times working on it with producer Paul Webster, writer Simon Beaufoy and the cast, Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas,” said Hallström.
“Lasse Hallström has done it again with this beautiful, heartwarming, and elegant picture. The performances are amazing from top to bottom,” commented Shooman who continued, “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring this extraordinary film to American audiences.”
UTA Independent Film Group set up the film’s financing and brokered the dealwith CBS Films.
UPDATE, 6:11PM: The deal has closed, and CBS Films has acquired U.S. rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Sources close to the buyer say it’s the $4 million that the sellers asked for, while sources close to the seller say it’s $5 million. Summit got the deal to that level. What’s clear is this is a healthy deal.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 12:26 PM: CBS Films is in advanced negotiations to reel in U.S. distribution rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, the Lasse Hallstrom-directed film that premiered last night at the Princess of Wales Theater. Fox Searchlight, Summit, Focus and Miramax have been circling, but CBS appears to be tying down the property for a low-seven-figure deal. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from the Paul Torday novel, the film stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The sheik believes that fishing brings him closer to God, an experience he wants to share with his countrymen, despite the dangerous fact that some local leaders oppose it; there is a burgeoning love story between his British legal rep (Blunt) and the stuffy fisheries scientist (McGregor) who is locked in a dull marriage.
After scripting such films as David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises and Stephen Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things, Steven Knight is set to make his directorial debut on his script Hummingbird. The film is set at Shine Pictures, the movie arm of Liz Murdoch’s Shine Group. Hummingbird follows a damaged ex-Special Forces soldier who finds himself trapped in the criminal underworld and assumes another man’s identity to exact revenge. 20th Century Fox will release this New Regency-financed thriller worldwide. Casting is under way on the project, which is expected to start shooting this fall. Paul Webster, who recently stepped down as Shine’s head of film, will co-produce alongside Shine, New Regency and Tracey Seaward (The Queen). Knight, Webster and Seaward worked together before on Eastern Promises. Ollie Madden from Warner Bros Entertainment UK will replace Webster as Shine’s head of film in May. Shine’s current slate includes The Gray Man, an adaptation of Mark Greaney’s thriller; Eastern Promises 2; and an adaptation of Swedish bestselling thriller 3 Seconds, with writer Matt Cook attached.
EXCLUSIVE: Kudos Pictures, the Brit TV and film company owned by Liz Murdoch’s Shine Group, has hired Oliver Madden from Warner Bros. to be its new film boss. Current Head of Film Paul Webster, now in post on Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, is returning to independent producing. He will exit Shine at the end of April but will continue to work with the company on upcoming film projects. Madden, current VP of production at Warner Bros. Entertainment UK, will join a slightly reconfigured Shine Pictures — Kudos’ joint venture with New Regency — in May, reporting to Kudos executive chairman Stephen Garrett. Shine’s current slate includes The Gray Man, an adaptation of Mark Greaney’s thriller; Eastern Promises 2; and an adaptation of Swedish bestselling thriller 3 Seconds, with writer Matt Cook attached. Recent Kudos productions include Brighton Rock.