*“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, has finally gotten itself a U.S. distributor.
At the Cannes Film Festival in France over the weekend, the film’s production companies Pathe International and Distant Horizon struck a deal with The Weinstein Company for distribution throughout North America, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Distribution was also picked up for France, Germany, Brazil and Australia, among others.
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is based on Mandela’s autobiography. It traces the freedom fighter’s journey from childhood to his election as president of South Africa. “It explores the Mandela unknown to most of the world — the lover of fast cars and women, the boxing enthusiast and playboy, the skillful lawyer and the gun-toting freedom fighter,” according to a description of the film.
At an event in Cannes this weekend, The Weinstein Company announced a Thanksgiving weekend release for the movie in the U.S.
Latest sales will bring the film to the U.K. and France via Pathe, Germany (Senator), Australia (Village Roadshow), Scandinavia (Scanbox), the Benelux countries (Paradiso), Brazil (Vinny Films), Hong Kong (Golden Scene), Israel (Shani), the Middle East (Gulf Films) and Singapore (Shaw). Deals with several additional territories are currently being negotiated.
Said producer Anant Singh: “We are thrilled that distributors around the world have responded so positively to the film and to its commercial and creative potential. The journey to getting the film made has been a long and exciting one, and we are delighted to have found so many partners who share our passion for the little known story of how Mandela became an icon for the world. Made with Mandela’s blessing, the film is an apt tribute to a great man who celebrates his 95th birthday this year.”
Actor Samuel L. Jackson speaks onstage during the Second Annual Hilarity For Charity benefiting The Alzheimer’s Association at the Avalon on April 25, 2013 in Hollywood
*Samuel L. Jackson is boarding RKO Pictures’ “Barely Lethal,” which marks the third Jackson project that is being shopped at the Cannes Film Festival.
The action-comedy is described as a playful, high-velocity romp in which a 16-year-old international assassin (Hailee Steinfeld) yearning for “normal” adolescence fakes her own death and enrolls in a suburban high school. When her former-employer (Jackson) comes calling, it becomes more than any teenager can handle.
Kyle Newman will direct from a script by John D’Arco. RKO is producing with Hopscotch Pictures and Brett Ratner’s Rat Entertainment.
The other Jackson projects being shopped at Cannes are the live-action remake of Yasuomi Umetsu’s Japanese anime movie “Kite,” which has just completed shooting, and “Big Game.”
*The Weinstein Company has acquired worldwide rights, excluding the U.S., South Africa and India, to the live-action remake of Yasuomi Umetsu’s Japanese anime movie “Kite,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The film, which has just completed shooting in South Africa, stars Samuel L. Jackson, India Eisley and Australia’s Callan McAuliffe and was directed by Ralph Ziman.
Kite is described a character-driven action film that charts the story of Sawa, portrayed by Eisley, a young woman living in a failed state, post-financial collapse, where the corrupt security force profits from the trafficking of young women.
When her father is killed, Sawa vows to track the murderer down with the help of her father’s ex-police partner, played by Jackson.
“Kite” will be sold to international buyers at the Cannes Film Festival next week.
*Focus Features International has picked up worldwide sales on director Julien Temple’s Untitled Marvin Gaye project, starring Jesse L. Martin as the late singer.
Focus will present the title to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival next month, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
With a screenplay by Matthew Broughton, the project will also star Golden Globe nominee Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges, Troy) in the role of Freddy Cousaert, Vicky Krieps (Hanna) as Eugenie and Dwight Henry (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) as the singer’s father.
Frederick Bestall of Auric Entertainment and Jimmy De Brabant from Delux Productions are producing. Grammy Award-winning producer Vassal Benford will executive produce alongside Peter Davy. Vassal will also compose the score.
The film, currently shooting in Luxemburg and Belgium, will focus on the later part of Gaye’s life when he recorded one of his most lauded albums, “Midnight Love,” during an 18-month period in Belgium and his close but turbulent friendship with promoter Cousaert.
“Marvin Gaye is an iconic idol with a bittersweet story spanning success, fame and the torments of addiction,” FFI co-president Alison Thompson said. “With his long established track record in making movies about music and the great musicians who touch us all, Julien and his team are the ideal partners to bring the extraordinary life of Marvin Gaye to audiences around the world.”
Forest Whitaker, Orlando Bloom in “Zulu”
*The 2013 Cannes Film Festival announced that it will wrap on May 26 with Jérôme Salle’s noir thriller “Zulu,” based on the award-winning novel by French author Caryl Férey.
Shot on location in South Africa, Forest Whitaker and Orlando Bloom star as Cape Town cops on opposite sides of the apartheid divide who end up working together to solve the murder of two women. Salle co-wrote “Zulu” with Julien Rappeneau, scripter of last year’s French hit “Cloclo.”
The festival opens May 15 with Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby.” Jay-Z is producing the film’s soundtrack.