Neophyte distributor Relativity's future is banked on its 2011/2012 schedule, which is packed with genre fare (see full line-up below). Much production coin and P & A is invested in this slate. Relativity has now beefed up its fall lineup by taking back North American rights from Lionsgate of its own production of Marc Forster's Machine Gun Preacher, starring Gerard Butler as real-life reformed criminal Sam Childers.
Having co-financed a series of Sony and Universal films, Relativity Media is betting on the increased returns and control that come from releasing your own projects and being freed from outdated studio ancillary windows (via a lucrative Netflix output deal). But as CEO Ryan Kavanaugh knows, that equation brings considerable risk.
Relativity and Forster were eager to release the East African action drama in 2011, earlier than Lionsgate had planned; the film will open in Los Angeles and New York on September 23, 2011 and will then expand. Lionsgate will keep international distribution on the film, in partnership with Relativity. “We have a longstanding relationship with Marc, and given that together we felt it was best for the film to be released domestically this year, we are very happy that Relativity is able to handle it,” explains Mike Paseornek, Lionsgate’s motion picture production president.
Written by Jason Keller (Relativity’s currently filming untitled Snow White project), the film follows ex-drug-dealer Childers, whose new faith leads him to East Africa where he builds a safe haven for refugee children fleeing brutality in Sudan. The film's ensemble includes Michelle Monaghan, Kathy Baker, Michael Shannon and Souleymane Sy Savane. Relativity’s Robbie Brenner, Safady Entertainment’s Gary Safady and Craig Chapman and GG Filmz’s Deborah Giarratana are producers.
Machine Gun Preacher now joins two Relativity fall releases: David Ellis’ Shark Night 3D (September 2) and Tarsem Singh's costly 3-D period actioner Immortals (November 11).
2012 kicks off with Steven Soderbergh's kickboxing actioner Haywire (January 20), followed by pricey acquisition, the Bandito brothers' Navy SEAL actioner Act of Valor, on President's Day Weekend (February 17), James McTeigue's mystery thriller The Raven, starring John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe (March 9), Singh's untitled contemporary retelling of Snow White, starring Lily Collins, Armie Hammer and Julia Roberts (March 16), Peter Farrelly and Charles Wessler's dangerous comedy Movie 43, starring Butler and Elizabeth Banks and many, many others (April 13), thriller House at the End of the Street, starring Jennifer Lawrence (moved back to April 20 from February 3), and still-to-shoot projects from Lasse Hallstrom (romantic mystery Safe Haven, June 1) and Philip Noyce (international thriller Hunter Killer, December 21).
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.