UPDATED, 12:04 PM: Sony Pictures Classics today confirmed Deadline’s exclusive from two weeks ago that it has acquired the Annette Bening-toplined Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. Read SPC’s release below.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, July 26: One of the plum acquisition titles at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival is about to be taken off the table and will premiere in Canada with an eye toward launching in awards season. After a mad pursuit by prestige distributors, Sony Pictures Classics is in negotiations on a deal for the Annette Bening-starrer Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool. I’m told the deal will be done before the fest, and is in the $2 million range for North American rights plus some additional territories. The idea will be to capitalize on Bening’s winning performance in the film, with early buzz among those who’ve seen it that this could be Bening’s year.
In the Paul McGuigan-directed film, Bening plays actress Gloria Grahame. An Oscar winner for The Bad And The Beautiful who co-starred in It’s A Wonderful Life and numerous noir films, Grahame also lived a provocative off-screen life that included a marriage to Rebel Without A Cause helmer Nicholas Ray and a subsequent union with his son Anthony Ray. She found herself alone and with numerous kids to support when the movie work dried up. The film takes place after she relocated to the North of England where she performed in dinner theater type shows, and where she developed a relationship with a much younger 20-ish-year-old man, who is played by Jamie Bell.
The film is based on Peter Turner’s memoir of his affair with Grahame and all that happened to the actress in her later years as she weathered a health scare. The film is financed by EON Productions’ Barbara Broccoli, who knew Turner and had met Grahame and who is best known as the gatekeeper of the James Bond franchise. Broccoli nurtured the project for years, and it came together with a stellar cast that includes Julie Walters, Vanessa Redgrave, and Kenneth Cranham.
Broccoli produced with Colin Vaines, and WME Global is brokering the deal. IM Global sold foreign territories.
Here is Monday’s release from Sony Pictures Classics:
Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all rights in North America, Eastern Europe, Germany and Asia Pay Television to Paul McGuigan’s FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL. The film is premiering in Gala Presentations at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL stars Academy Award® nominee Annette Bening, BAFTA® Award winner Jamie Bell, Academy Award® nominee Julie Walters, and Academy Award® winner Vanessa Redgrave. The film reunites Sony Pictures Classics and Bening after BEING JULIA, for which Bening was nominated for an Oscar® for Best Actress.
Based on Peter Turner’s memoir, the film follows the playful but passionate relationship between Turner (Bell) and the eccentric Academy Award®-winning actress Gloria Grahame (Bening) in 1978 Liverpool. What starts as a vibrant affair between a legendary femme fatale and her young lover quickly grows into a deeper relationship, with Turner being the person Gloria turns to for comfort. Their passion and lust for life is tested to the limits by events beyond their control.
Written by Matt Greenhalgh, FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL is produced by Barbara Broccoli of EON Productions and Colin Vaines of Synchronistic Pictures, executive produced by Stuart Ford, Zygi Kamasa, Paul McGuigan and Michael G. Wilson.
“We are thrilled that FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL will be released by Sony Pictures Classics. We are happy to be working with Mike and Tom who share our passion for this film,” said Barbara Broccoli.
“Annette Bening in the role of a lifetime as an elusive personality whose dramatic true story defies belief. Supported to perfection by Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Vanessa Redgrave and the rest of the cast, embodied by Paul McGuigan’s precise direction. And then there’s producer Barbara Broccoli whose diligence over many years made it all happen. Independent filmmaking doesn’t come better than this. It is a privilege to be involved in bringing this remarkable film to the public,” said Sony Pictures Classics.
WME Global negotiated the deal on behalf of EON Productions with SPC. International territories are represented by IM Global.