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Cannes Market: Weinstein Co. Nabs Stephen Frears' 'Philomena,' Starring Dench and Coogan

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood May 23, 2013 at 12:53PM

More news is coming in from the ever-busy Cannes Market. The Weinstein Company has snapped up the latest Stephen Frears film, "Philomena," a drama starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, with plans for an Oscar-friendly fall 2013 release.
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Judi Dench
Judi Dench

-The Weinstein Company has acquired distribution rights for the US, Canada, the UK and Spain to director Stephen Frears' ("The Queen") latest, "Philomena," starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. The film, based on the novel "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee," centers on the true story of an Irish woman, Lee (Dench), searching for the illegitimate son, Michael, she gave up for adoption. The grown-up Michael is a closeted gay lawyer and Republican politician in 1980s Washington D.C. who's similarly been looking for his birth mother, but with tragic information to relay: He's contracted AIDS. TWC plans an Oscar-friendly fall 2013 release.

"The Young and Prodigious Spivet"
"The Young and Prodigious Spivet"

-In one of the highest-profile deals inked at the Cannes Marche this year, the Weinstein Co. also picked up US rights to Jean-Pierre Jeunet's ("Amelie") latest directorial endeavor, the 3D adventure epic "The Young and Prodigious Spivet." Adapted from the novel by Reif Larsen, the English-language tale follows the cross-America adventure of a 12-year-old Montana boy (Kyle Catlett) to receive a prize at Washington D.C.'s Smithsonian Museum. Helena Bonham Carter and Kathy Bates also star. Watch the trailer below.

-Meanwhile, TWC' s genre-oriented boutique label Radius has snapped up North American rights to Keanu Reeves' directorial debut "Man of Tai Chi." Reeves stars in the film opposite Chinese actor Tiger Hu Chen, in a tale set in the lucrative underworld of fight clubs in modern-day Beijing. Radius has slated a release for later this year. (The company, which reps competition title "Only God Forgives," also recently scooped up Directors Fortnight selection "Blue Ruin."

-French director Olivier Assayas ("Carlos") will helm "Hubris," his first shoot in the US. Set to begin production in mid-2014, the film is based on an article by Hillel Levin, chronicling a crew of thieves who rob a pawnshop only to realize it is a business front for one of the most brutal crime bosses in Chicago history, Tony Accardo. (Assayas' most recent film, "Something in the Air," hit stateside theaters on May 3.)

-Music Box Films has picked up US rights to the German arthouse hit "Oh Boy," a "Berlin-set slacker dramedy" that has grossed more than $2 million and went on to win big at the German Academy Awards.

-Sundance Selects has announced the acquisition of US rights to the Dardenne brothers' next film, "Two Days, One Night," which will star Marion Cotillard as a woman given one weekend to convince her colleagues to forgo their bonuses so that she can keep her job. Fabrizio Rongione and Olivier Gourmet are also set to star in the film, which is currently in pre-production.

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling

-International sales are strong for Ryan Gosling's directorial debut "How to Catch a Monster," which stars Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Saoirse Ronan, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Matt Smith and Rob Zabrecky in a modern fantasy-drama that began principal photography in Detroit this month. The title has been sold to a total of 20 international distributors thus far, and last week was acquired for US rights by Warner Bros., marking the fest's first major market buy. Gosling appears in James Toback's Cannes doc "Seduced and Abandoned" and stars in Nicolas Winding Refn's competition entry "Only God Forgives" (review roundup here).  

-Worldview Entertainment has optioned the Marilyn Monroe biopic "Blonde" by director Andrew Dominik ("Killing Them Softly"). The screenplay, written by Dominik, is adapted from Joyce Carol Oates' fictionalized biography of Monroe. Wild Bunch is handling international sales at the market.

-Myriad Pictures has announced that Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton will star in comedy "Life Itself," to be directed by Richard Loncraine ("The Gathering Storm"). The script is based on the novel "Heroic Measures" by Jill Ciment. Keaton and Freeman will play a long-married couple who are swept up in a comical bidding war when they put their downtown apartment on the market. Myriad has acquired international rights, and is shopping the film at the Cannes Marche.

-Focus Features has made numerous international sales on "Black Sea," a heist thriller starring Jude Law as a submarine captain. The film is directed by Kevin Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland").

The Crash Reel
Lucy Walker's 'The Crash Reel'

-FilmNation has secured multiple-territory deals on Tarsem Singh's "self/less," starring Ryan Reynolds. FilmDistrict will release the film in the US. The film, which is co-penned by Spain's David and Alex Pastor ("Carriers"), centers on a terminally ill New York real estate magnate who gets a new body through a secret medical procedure. 

-Phase 4 has taken US and Canadian rights to Oscar-nominated director Lucy Walker's documentary "The Crash Reel," which centers on the trajectories of professional snowboarders Shaun White and Kevin Pierce, the latter of whom suffered a severe injury that altered his career path.

-Phase 4 has also acquired all US and Canadian rights to writer-director Shana Betz's debut feature, 1970s-based crime thriller "Free Ride," starring Anna Paquin, Cam Gigandet and Drea De Mateo. This is the first production from Paquin and husband/"True Blood" co-star Stephen Moyer's new production company CASM. Phase 4 will release the film in theaters and on demand later this year.

-Wrekin Hill Entertainment has snapped up US rights to Gabriele Salvatores' "Siberian Education," starring John Malkovich. The film is set in the ghetto of Soviet Russia, and follows the diverging paths of two boys who are members of a gang of exiled Serbians. Wrekin Hill will release the film in late 2013; it has already been released in several territories, including Italy.

-IFC Midnight has picked up North American rights to "Raze," an action-thriller directed by Josh Waller. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York earlier this year, and stars Zoe Bell, Rachel Nichols, Tracie Thoms and Sherilyn Fenn. The gladiator-esque tales focuses on a woman who is kidnapped to an underground lair and forced to do battle with other captives for the amusement of unseen spectators. IFC has been on a buying spree at Cannes this year -- read more about their acquisitions here.


This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Ryan Gosling, Weinstein Co., Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Keanu Reeves, Stephen Frears, Judi Dench


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.