By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com June 30, 2011 at 1:43AM
You may not immediately recognize the name Graham King, but he's quietly established himself as one of the most successful producers out there, executive-producing the likes of "Traffic" and "Ali" as the head of financiers Initial Entertainment Group, before making his full-blown producing debut on "The Aviator." He re-teamed with Scorsese to win an Oscar for "The Departed," and has also produced films like "Blood Diamond," "The Town" and "Rango," the latter two through his new company, GK Films.
And on top of all of that, King last year decided to enter the distribution game, forming FilmDistrict, who will put out both select GK Films productions (including Angelina Jolie's upcoming "In The Land of Blood and Honey" and Johnny Depp starrer "The Rum Diary,") and acquisitions, and the new company has already come out of the gates strongly, turning pick-ups "Insidious" and "Soul Surfer" into unlikely sleeper hits.
They've also been on something of a buying spree of late, picking up, among others, the Gerard Butler sex comedy "Playing the Field," Jason Statham vehicle "Parker," fantasy actioner "Arabian Nights," Luc Besson-produced space thriller "Lockout" and, most excitingly, Rian Johnson's sci-fi "Looper." And now, they're teaming up with the star and director behind their big fall release, the much anticipated "Drive," for another go: Deadline report that the company have paid a seven-figure sum for "Only God Forgives," the Bangkok-set noir that will see helmer Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling reunite.
As reported last week, Gosling stepped in to help out his new heterosexual life partner Refn when original star Luke Evans dropped out when he took a role in "The Hobbit," creating a scheduling conflict. The "Blue Valentine" star will play a fugitive who runs a Thai boxing club in Bangkok, a front for drug smugglers, and Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm and Yaya Ying are also on board for a shoot that will get underway towards the end of the summer, with the ludicrously-busy Gosling somehow squeezing it in between Derek Cianfrance's "A Place Beyond the Pines" and the big-budget period actioner "Gangster Squad."
Apparently, FilmDistrict landed the film because Refn is happy with the job they're doing so far on "Drive," although the campaign hasn't really kicked off yet. That film hits on September 16th, so we'll see the fruits of their labors fairly soon, with "Only God Forgives" likely to follow it up sometime in 2012.