EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has won the bidding for the Keanu Reeves–Reese Witherspoon sci-fi romance movie Passengers. I’m hearing the distributor has committed to a multi-million dollar minimum guarantee and a P&A commitment in the $25 million range for a wide release in 2014. I understand FilmDistrict and Open Road were in the mix here in Cannes for the project, which was written by Prometheus scribe Jon Spaihts and will be directed by Game Of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire helmer Brian Kirk in his major feature film debut. Wayfare Entertainment is financing and producing the pic. The plot: A spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger (Reeves) is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he eventually decides to wake up a second passenger (Witherspoon), marking the beginning of what becomes a unique love story. The script was developed by Stephen Hamel and Reeves at their production shingle Company Films. Hamel is producing with Wayfare CEO Ben Browning. Start Media’s Michael Maher and Lynwood Spinks are executive producing. CAA repped domestic sales rights; Exclusive Media has international rights.
The Weinsteins have been major players at Cannes, having already won the first big bidding battle of the festival by acquiring the Judi Dench movie Philomena — directed by Stephen Frears and co-starring Steve Coogan — based on seven minutes of footage shown to buyers. In addition, TWC landed U.S. and other territories for Suite Française, based on Irene Nemirovsky’s novel about a young woman who lives with her controlling mother-in-law in Nazi-occupied France and ends up falling for a German officer. Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas star. The company’s alt-distribution label Radius-TWC meanwhile picked up North American rights to Blue Ruin, one of the few U.S. titles screening in the Directors’ Fortnight section.
Reeves, meanwhile, was in town this week to promote his directorial debut, the China co-production Man Of Tai Chi. The kung-fu pic is due out July 5 in China.