EXCLUSIVE FROM TORONTO: Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions are wrapping up an acquisitions deal for The Conspirator, the Robert Redford-directed historical drama that was one of the highest profile acquisition title at the Toronto Film Festival. The plan is for the picture to sit out this upcoming Oscar race and will be released in the spring. The film was selectively pre-screened before the festival, and the important part of this deal is the P&A commitment, which I’m told is well in the 7-figures. The film was financed by Joe Ricketts, the Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner whose American Film Co. will be making a series of historical-based pictures. The picture is being repped by CAA and everyone is still working out details. But it is likely that Roadside Attractions will release the picture in partnership with Lionsgate.
Festival speculation was whether Redford might jump into the Oscar race. I’m told he and his backers came into Toronto expecting that the film wouldn’t, something that didn’t change even after the picture got strong reviews. It will instead follow The Hurt Locker model. The race is getting crowded and newcomers will be challenged to catch up.
The drama takes place right after the Lincoln assassination in 1865, when Mary Surratt became the lone woman among 8 tried for conspiring with John Wilkes Booth in the murder because they met regularly in her boarding house. Robin Wright plays Surrate and James McAvoy plays Frederick Aiken, a heroic soldier-turned lawyer who is asked to defend her. Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson, Evan Rachel Wood, Danny Huston, Colm Meaney and Justin Long also star. Greg Shapiro, Brian Falk, Robert Stone, Bill Holderman produced while Ricketts, Jeremiah Samuels and Webster Stone were exec producers.