EXCLUSIVE: Ahead of its shooting start next month, Sean Penn-starrer The Gunman has virtually sold out for Studiocanal here in Cannes. This is the project from producers Joel Silver and Andrew Rona that Studiocanal is fully financing. Taken helmer Pierre Morel is directing the action film, which previously went by the title Prone Gunman. Silver and Rona are also in business with Studiocanal on the upcoming Jaume Collet-Serra-directed Non-Stop, which Universal is releasing Stateside. Footage from that film was screened for buyers in Cannes, which Studiocanal says helped fuel sales on The Gunman. Morel was also in town to enthuse buyers. The movie sees Penn as an ex-government contract killer whose past comes back to haunt him. Studiocanal closed deals this week in such territories as Scandinavia, Switzerland, China, Russia, Latin America, Benelux, Poland, the Middle East, Greece and Italy, where Rai acquired the pic in what is a rare direct buy for the company. Studiocanal is releasing in France, Germany, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. U.S. studios and indies are circling. I’m told the film is not part of Silver’s deal with Universal.
“Our distributors were very impressed with the footage on Non-Stop and as a consequence we will do better on The Gunman internationally,” says Studiocanal sales EVP Harold van Lier. “They all see this as a potential franchise backed by the strongest possible creative team and a great story and character.”