EXCLUSIVE: Ridley Scott’s next directing project, All The Money In The World, is headed to the international marketplace in what instantly becomes a hot ticket here at the Cannes Film Festival. STXinternational has secured the highly sought offshore rights to the Imperative Entertainment- and Scott Free-produced true crime thriller that chronicles the harrowing 1973 kidnapping of J Paul Getty III, STXfilms chairman Adam Fogelson and STXinternational president David Kosse confirmed today. Dan Friedkin and Micah Green’s new investment venture arranged the financing. Sony Pictures is handling North American and UK distribution.

The deal will excite offshore distributors who now have a meaty Ridley Scott project to heat up the Croisette this week.

Deadline broke news of the David Scarpa-scripted Black List drama project in March, at which time Tom Rothman locked down a worldwide distribution deal for Sony Pictures. Key talent attached includes Kevin Spacey as J Paul Getty; Michelle Williams as Gail Harris; and Mark Wahlberg as the ex-CIA negotiator brought on to help the case. Charlie Plummer has been cast in the role of J Paul Getty III.

The fast-tracked project starts production this month in Europe. The film is being produced by Friedkin, Bradley Thomas, Scott, Mark Huffam, Chris Clark and Quentin Curtis. Kevin Walsh will executive produce.

Associated Press

The story follows the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his mother Gail Harris to get the boy’s wealthy oilman grandfather to pay the ransom. This is a strong character piece: Combined with a ticking-clock thriller of a race to save a kidnap victim being mistreated by his mob-tied captors, there is the back-and-forth between a mother trying to recover the son she raised alone, and the boy’s grandfather, Getty Sr. Despite being the world’s richest man, he would not initially pay up, arguing it would put a price tag on all his grandchildren. That led to the boy’s severed ear showing up in a mailed envelope.

Eventually, Harris and the boy’s father reportedly were able to convince him to pay $2.2M (the highest amount that could be claimed as a tax deduction); Getty lent his son another $700K — to be repaid with interest — and the $2.9M ultimately freed the boy. Getty, who was chained to a stake in a cave in Italy throughout this six-month ordeal, never recovered. He lived a tragic life that included a drug overdose that left him with a stroke and kidney failure, and a quadriplegic. He died at 54 in 2011.

Imperative’s Friedkin says, “Bradley and I are honored to be a part of this film, and to have the opportunity to work with Ridley Scott, who we know will masterfully bring this story to life. We are so grateful to Sony for entrusting us with it, and thrilled that STX shares our vision and passion for this unbelievable true story.”

Says Kosse, “This is the kind of amazing story and film that will be a huge title internationally, especially as the intimate and behind-the-scenes details of this crime involving one of the world’s most wealthy families are revealed through the lens of this heart stopping drama. We are tremendously honored to be working with the team at Scott Free and are especially eager and excited to begin our relationship with Imperative on this important film for STXinternational.”

“Ridley Scott is a master storyteller like none other and this is a film that has it all. Ridley has assembled an outstanding dream cast with Michelle Williams, Kevin Spacey and Mark Wahlberg and we could not be more excited or proud to be involved with this epic event motion picture at STXfilms,” says Fogelson, who, along with Kosse teamed with Scott on American Gangster, which took in more than $266M at the worldwide box office.

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Scott’s Alien: Covenant is currently heading toward a $40M opening weekend domestically, has already raked in $46M in 34 overseas markets, including a terrific $7.1M debut in Korea, and opens in another 54 markets this weekend.

The director pushed back The Cartel, the adaptation of the Don Winslow bestseller about the drug war that had been in active pre-production for Fox, to do All The Money In The World. He is expected to return to it. He has slipped in intriguing, character-based dramas between blockbusters before, with The Counselor the most recent example.

Imperative is also producing Atlantic Wall, directed by Gavin O’Connor and staring Bradley Cooper, and recently acquired David Grann’s book Killers Of The Flower Moon: An American Crime And The Birth Of The FBI. They are also behind Ruben Östlund’s The Square which is in competition here in Cannes.

John Friedberg, President of International Sales for STXinternational, negotiated the agreement on behalf of STXinternational with John Atwood of Imperative and Green.