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Cannes: Tommy Lee Jones' 'The Homesman' Snapped Up for North America by Newbie Saban Films

by Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
May 22, 2014 2:13 PM
1 Comment
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Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank in 'The Homesman'
Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank in 'The Homesman'

Tommy Lee Jones' Cannes competition title "The Homesman" has found, well, a home with new banner Saban Films, who will distribute the film in North America. The movie was shown to a few key buyers before Cannes but did not land the level of deal it was hoping for. Saban is the deep-pocketed new kid on the block, planting a flag during their first Cannes that they are in the buying game. Win-win all around. 

The film, which premiered May 18 to reasonably solid reviews, is helmed and written by Jones, who stars opposite Hilary Swank in what he thinks is a revisionist historic take on the cross-country Western. (He doesn't consider the movie a western at all.)  Variety notes that the "characters are strong, the performances understated," and that "In the past, people have whispered about Jones’ attitudes toward women; with this film, he says a thing or two on the subject with a sensitivity that comes as a welcome surprise." Feminist the movie isn't--the women are reminiscent of Lillian Gish in "The Wind," victims of the harsh, unforgiving environment. 

Meanwhile, THR calls it "an absorbing, melancholy look at the hard lot of women in the Old West." Eric Kohn of Indiewire was more critical, calling it "the strangest film" of the competition in a B- review.

Saban, headed by president Bill Bromiley, is so new that this is their first acquisition. (Bromiley and Jones previously collaborated on 2008's "In the Electric Mist," starring Jones and directed by French auteur Bertrand Tavernier.) Per the company, they came to Cannes with "an aggressive acquisitions strategy and targeted [The Homesman]" specifically. 

The film is being eyed for a 2014 release. Here's the trailer:

1 Comment

  • Rich Tarle | May 23, 2014 10:26 AMReply

    I think this film is Oscar bait. It was excellent. I fear that Saban won't give it the kind of Oscar spend it deserves, being so new in the game. Homesman outstrips Tommy Lee Jones' previous oater "Melquiadas Estrada" in more ways than one. It would be crazy not to enter this in the Oscar race.

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