pennsEXCLUSIVE: In its latest aggressive pre-buy to line its slate with star-driven pictures, Open Road Films has on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival closed a deal to acquire U.S. rights to The Gunman, the action thriller that stars Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance and Jasmine Trinca. It was directed by Taken helmer Pierre Morel. The film was expected to be one of the hot titles for domestic distribution at the market that starts next week. The deal was made by Open Road CEO Tom Ortenberg and Studiocanal chairman/CEO Olivier Courson. It is a commitment for a big wide release.

Cannes2014_badgeBased on the Jean-Patrick Manchette novel The Prone Gunman, the film stars Penn as a former Special Forces soldier and military contractor suffering from PTSD. He tries to reconnect with his longtime love, but first must go on the run from London to Barcelona and across Europe in order to clear his name. Joel Silver, Andrew Rona and Sean Penn are the producers. Adrian Guerra and Peter McAleese are exec producers. It is one of Studiocanal’s biggest productions to date.

IdrisElbabardemThis comes after Open Road acquired U.S. rights to Tupac, the John Singleton-directed biopic of the late hip-hop icon. At Berlin, Open Road pre-bought rights to the John Hillcoat heist thriller Triple Nine, which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Woody Harrelson and Norman Reedus, and the distributor acquired U.S. distribution rights to Rock The Kasbah, the Barry Levinson-directed comedy that stars Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride, Shia LaBeouf and Zooey Deschanel.

Assisting Ortenberg in The Gunman deal was Elliott Kleinberg and Peter Lawson, and on Courson’s side was Anna Marsh, Head of International Sales at Studiocanal.