Image Entertainment Takes US Rights To Winnie Mandela Biopic (Jennifer Hudson Stars)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
May 16, 2013 11:31 AM
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It's been a long journey for this film; I feel like we've been talking about it for years. 

The last post? Last spring (2012), when it was announced that T.D. Jakes and his company TDJ Enterprises/Film Bridge International had jumped on board to executive produce and develop a Stateside marketing and distribution strategy for the film. No news since then - nothing that we've been privy to anyway.

Announced this morning, Image Entertainment has acquired all USA rights to Winnie, the Winnie Mandela biopic starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard.

Image will release the film in USA theaters this fall.

Our readers in Canada would've already seen the film, because it was set to open there commercially last October, about a month after it was the opening night film at the 8th annual Montreal International Black Film Festival.

By the way, Image Entertainment is owned by Robert Johnson's RLJ Entertainment.

The film attracted controversy before a single frame was shot, primarily over the casting of Hudson, and the lack of communication with and input from the real Winnie Mandela.

While we wait for further news on this deal, Jasmin interviewed director Darrell Roodt, last year, and you're strongly encouraged to read that review HERE. In it, he addresses a lot of the questions many of you have had about the project since we first alerted you to it, like his reasons for casting Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard, the audience backlash against his casting choices, especially by South Africans, the real Winnie Mandela's objections to the project, what we can expect from the film, and more.

Read that interview HERE

And below is an older trailer for the film, although I'd expect a new one to be cut ahead of Image Entertainment's release of it.

UPDATE: Just received the full press release embedded below:

IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT ACQUIRES DOMESTIC RIGHTS TO WINNIE MANDELA BIOPIC 

LOS ANGELES, May XX, 2013 – Image Entertainment, an RLJ Entertainment (NASDAQ: RLJE) brand, has acquired all U.S. rights to Winnie Mandela at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival.  Budgeted at $15 million, the film is an adaptation of Anné Mariè du Preez Bezdrob’s biography Winnie Mandela: A Life and is written and directed by Darrell J. Roodt. 

Winnie Mandela stars Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson (DreamgirlsSex in the City) and Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard (Hustle & FlowRed TailsIron Man) and will be released in theaters Fall 2013.  The film is presented by TD Jakes, and produced by André Pieterse (Ironwood Films) and Michael Mosca (Equinoxe Films).  Bill Bromiley, Chief Acquisitions Officer for Image Entertainment, made today’s announcement.

“Both Jennifer Hudson (as Winnie) and Terrence Howard (as Nelson Mandela) deliver exceptional, solid performances,” said Bromiley.  “We are honored to distribute the film and give audiences the opportunity to see Winnie Mandela’s powerful story.”

Winnie Mandela has been a labor of love,” said director Darrell J. Roodt.  “We wanted to uphold the prestige of the Mandela name and tell her story as accurately and respectfully as possible.  We took great pride and responsibility in creating this movie, and we are proud to release the never-before-seen dramatic love story this Fall. The brilliant acting by Jennifer and Terrence, supported by the excellent cinematography and outstanding title song by six time Academy Award nominee Diane Warren (sung by Jennifer Hudson), make this film incomparable.”

“This movie offers American audiences a rare opportunity to visit the amazing beauty of South Africa from a theater seat,” said TD Jakes, CEO of TDJ Enterprises.  “But even more, it is an epic look at love and liberty and the great expense incurred to attain and maintain either.  It is our honor to inspire a wider audience to sample the drama of a love life painted on the canvas of Apartheid.  Image Entertainment and RLJ, we applaud you for having the courage to unveil this compelling story on screen.”

Winnie Mandela explores the personal and political life of the wife of renowned activist and former South African President, Nelson Mandela (Terrence Howard).  The film tells the compelling story of one woman’s journey as she fights for the freedom of the man she loves and for the freedom of her people during the Apartheid era.  Winnie Mandela depicts the struggle to keep the Mandela dream alive amidst her husband’s life imprisonment, her own time in solitary confinement, and her battle to overcome controversies that followed her through the years. 

The deal was negotiated by Bromiley, Brett Dismuke and Jess De Leo on behalf of Image Entertainment, and by CAA on behalf of the producers.

Winnie Mandela made 70 appearances on American network television, merited 20 stories in the New York Times, and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.  Known as South Africa’s brave and selfless “Mother of the Nation,” she became one of the most famous women in the world.

Recent Image Entertainment releases include The Numbers Station with John Cusack and Malin AkermanTomorrow You’re Gone with Stephen Dorff, Michelle Monaghan and Willem Dafoe, Day of the Falcon with Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto and Mark Strong and the upcoming The Colony with Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton and Kevin Zegers, Blood with Paul Bettany, Mark Strong and Brian Cox and Paradise with Julianne Hough, Russell Brand, Octavia Spencer and Holly Hunter, written, directed and produced by Diablo Cody.


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