EXCLUSIVE– In one the splashiest deals of the Cannes market so far, the Weinstein Co. has acquired North American and UK rights to Hotel Mumbai, about the 2008 terrorist attacks on the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. Dev Patel and Armie Hammer are on-board to star in the film, along with Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland).
The basis for the screenplay, which is being written by John Collee and Anthony Maras, is the Emmy-nominated documentary Surviving Mumbai, a harrowing account of the terrorist attack on the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in India by a group of heavily armed Pakistani militants. For 68 hours, hundreds were held hostage as shots rang out and an enormous fire raged. When the smoke cleared, more than 160 people were dead in total as a result of the attacks and many more injured. Only the courageous actions of staff and guests prevented a much higher death toll in the hotel itself.
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Patel will also be an exec producer on the project, which Anthony Maras will direct. Maras was shortlisted for an Academy Award for his short film The Palace, which also won two Australian Academy Awards. Basil Iwanyk is producing through his Thunder Road banner along with Arclight Films’ Gary Hamilton and Mike Gabrawy. Electric Pictures’ Andrew Ogilvie is also onboard as a producer as is Julie Ryan. Thunder Road’s Kent Kubena and Jonathan Fuhrman will exec produce. The filmmakers are in negotiations with Xeitgeist’s Joe Thomas and Mark Montgomery, who most recently worked with Patel on The Man Who Knew Infinity, to produce and co-finance. Arclight is handling sales.
The deal reunites Patel with Weinstein after working together recently on Garth David’s much-buzzed about Lion, the true story of five-year-old Indian boy, who gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family. That pic, starring Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman, is one of TWC’s awards season contenders this year.
“I’m thrilled to be working with Dev Patel again having had a great experience on Lion,” said Harvey Weinstein. “He’s an artist with great integrity and I’m super excited to work with Nazanin Boniadi and Armie Hammer. I saw Anthony Maras’s short, The Palace, and was captivated. Hotel Mumbai plans to be a big part of our Oscar plans next year.”
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