UPDATE, 9:57 AM: Alchemy has confirmed our scoop on the Free Fire deal and said it plans a U.S. theatrical release in 2016.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, WEDNESDAY AM: In one of the most competitive and splashiest deals out of an otherwise lukewarm American Film Market, Alchemy is closing on Ben Wheatley’s much-anticipated Free Fire. The deal for U.S. rights is north of $3 million. This was a highly competitive title, with thoroughbreds including A24 and The Weinstein Company also chasing. The deal would be a big coup for Alchemy and a sign that it is ready to mix it with the big boys.
Wheatley (High-Rise, A Field In England) has been one the UK’s most exciting directors for some time now, and Free Fire is seen as his big step up into the commercial arena. The director’s hot reputation helped put together a killer cast including Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Sam Riley and Noah Taylor. Sharlto Copley, Michael Smiley, Enzo Cilenti and Babou Ceesay (Eye In The Sky) round out the cast.
Martin Scorsese is exec producing the action thriller, which is set in late-1970s Boston. It follows a woman (Larson) who has brokered a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen (Murphy and Smiley) and a gang (led by Hammer and Copley) who are selling them a stash of guns. But when shots are fired in the handover, a heart-stopping game of survival ensues. The film was written by Wheatley and Amy Jump.
StudioCanal has acquired the UK on the film, with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions taking Australia/New Zealand, Latin America, Scandinavia, Spain and other territories.
Andy Starke and Wheatley’s Rook Films is producing. Film4 and BFI have co-financed the film, with Protagonist handing international sales and also co-repping the domestic sale along with WME Global. Film 4’s David Kosse and Sam Lavender exec produce.
Alchemy is fast emerging, along with the likes of A24 and Broad Green, as real players in the indie biz. It is growing quickly, with ambitious taste and appetite. Among the projects distributed by Alchemy are works by Richard Linklater, Werner Herzog, Gregg Araki, Dito Montiel, John Hillcoat, John Turturro, Lee Daniels, Oren Moverman and James Cameron. The company’s upcoming releases include Meet The Patels, Mia Madre, The Lobster and Rob Zombie’s 31.