Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Relativity Buys 'Machine Gun Preacher' From Lionsgate In Hopes Of Getting Gerard Butler An Oscar Nom

by Oliver Lyttelton
June 15, 2011 1:19 AM
8 Comments
  • |


Considering his run of recent performances... actually, let's strike that and start again. Considering almost every performance he's ever given, ever, perhaps bar a decent vocal turn in "How To Train Your Dragon," the idea of Gerard Butler as a potential Oscar nominee is a bizarre one: this is, after all, the man who, in films like "Law Abiding Citizen," "The Ugly Truth" and "The Bounty Hunter" has give some of the most wretched bits of acting in recent memory, and whose signature role is still King Shouty in "300." But before the just-starting-to-gear-up awards season kicks off, it's something that we could possibly end up seeing.

The actor's on something of a mission to rehabilitate his image, having already turned in what is apparently a solid performance in Ralph Fiennes' Shakespeare adaptation "Coriolanus," and he's got a passion project on the way, producing and starring in "Machine Gun Preacher," a biopic of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing Hell's Angel who found God, set up an orphanage in Sudan in the 1990s, and then formed a militia to prevent the children from being turned into child soldiers.

Butler plays Childer, with a decent cast including Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, Kathy Baker and Souleymane Sy Savane in support, and Marc Forster, who had moderate success in the awards race a few years back with both "Monster's Ball" and "Finding Neverland," is at the helm, and lord knows the subject matter is right up the Academy's alley, but even so, the film hadn't really figured into the awards conversation so far. Indeed, Lionsgate, who acquired the rights a year ago, have a busy slate, and couldn't afford to release the film until 2012. But things have changed: Deadline reports that Lionsgate has in fact passed the North American rights to "Machine Gun Preacher" to Relativity Media, who is planning a fall release and all the Oscar campaigning that goes with that.

Deadline says that "Forster might have pulled a performance out of Gerard Butler akin to the one Halle Berry turned in for 'Monster's Ball'" [something of a backhanded compliment], and the director, who's just gearing up to to direct Brad Pitt in "World War Z," personally asked Lionsgate to let the film, which is completed, move elsewhere, and newbies Relativity Media stepped in. The latter company is in need of a hit; of their self-released films, only "Limitless" made any kind of impression at the box office so far. Furthermore, they had a decent awards run with the similarly-toned "The Fighter" last year, although Paramount shared the push in that case.

We wouldn't count ourselves as fans of either Forster or Butler, so this is a film we'd been cautious of, but we're always happy to be wrong. We'll see how the film turns out when it hits later in the fall: we'd count on a festival bow of some kind, almost certainly at Toronto, before then.

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

8 Comments

  • Janet | March 14, 2014 5:44 PMReply

    Gerry's performance in this movie was overwhelmingly, strong, one of his best!.. He definitely deserved an Oscar nomination for best actor for this one and a few others, I might add. He doesn't get the credit and recognition he deserves for his work. How nominees/winners are chosen is beyond me. Seems like it's the same movie styles and actors all the time that win.

  • Celtic Charm | June 16, 2011 10:33 AMReply

    It is apparent you just saw Butler's films that came out of hollywood or films that wanted to be commercial. Being familiar with his early work (The Jury) Butler is indeed a very fine actor. MGP could indeed be the vehical to give Gerry an Oscar nod.

  • Liz | June 15, 2011 6:46 AMReply

    Why are movie critics and writers so against Gerard Butler? This writer has obviously never seen any of his work before "300." He is a terrific actor and should have been nominated for "Dear Frankie", "Phantom of the Opera", and "300." He was heartbreaking in PBS' "The Jury." Did you not see "Rocknrolla?" Why do all of you writers bash romcoms constantly? A lot of us like them and are sick to death of violent movies and comic book movies. Don't you think that actors want to act in a variety of roles?? I am sick of the same old boring actors that get all the plum roles. I'd much rather see Gerry in anything! You self-important bloggers just love to bash him! Give him a break!

  • sp | June 15, 2011 4:36 AMReply

    Paisley , I loved " The Jury". What a great mini-series. Yes, Butler was good in it.

  • Jake | June 15, 2011 3:34 AMReply

    Two articles insulting Marc Forster in one day, give me a break.

  • Paisley | June 15, 2011 3:27 AMReply

    Don't be surprised if Mr. Butler blows the minds of a LOT of people with this role. Anyone who has seen his early works like Please, The Jury & Dear Frankie already know that this man is a formidable acting talent. His more commercial releases don't even begin to scratch the surface of what he's capable of. He'll get an Oscar nod for sure.

  • sp | June 15, 2011 2:14 AMReply

    Oliver, I would never refer to Michael Shannon as decent. This guy is beyond great.

    I actually believe that Gerard Butler is a talented fellow with a strong film presence. He just needs to be more selecive , and work with solid scripts with first class directors that are not scared to challenge Butler.

  • Julie | June 15, 2011 1:56 AMReply

    I saw an advanced screening of this film in LA and it blew me away. Marc Forster told an amazing story that touched me to the core. When the film was over I sat there not really having a lot to say, but lost in my own thoughts. It sounds corny to say that I teared up at least 3-5 times during the film but it is true. There was very solid acting by Gerard Butler who I had only seen in Law Abiding Citizen and was not impressed. I do think he is worthy of an Oscar nom. However, I think the whole cast did and outstanding job (Michelle Moynahan, Michael Shannon and the incredible Souleymane Sy Savane who I had the pleasure of seeing in Goodbye Solo). At the end of the day though, this movie is about those kids in Sudan and how terribly mistreated they have been and the fact that there is a man out there who is on the front lines, risking his life to do whatever he can to give them peace of mind. If award noms help bring light to this story then I hope that happens and so much more.

Email Updates