EXCLUSIVE: Joe and Anthony Russo’s unnamed production venture has acquired rights to the Mohsin Hamid bestseller Exit West for Morten Tyldum to direct. They have also made a first-look deal with Tyldum and his Mimir banner. The Russos will produce the film based on a novel that was a Man Booker Prize long list selection this year.
While the Russos have been directing back-to-back The Avengers sequels for Marvel, they methodically have been putting together the pieces for a funded production venture that is expected to get really moving in January when they finish the films. The siblings just pacted with Fox in a substantial first-look deal with the studio to distribute their projects worldwide. This is another filmmaker alliance for the Russo brothers, who earlier this year acquired the next film by Swiss Army Man writing-directing team Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, better known as the Daniels.
Hamid wrote The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. Exit West addresses similar themes, as it tackles the global refugee crisis. In an unidentified country, young Saeed and burqa-wearing Nadia flee their home after Saeed’s mother is killed by a stray bullet and their city turns increasingly dangerous due to worsening violent clashes between the government and guerrillas. The couple joins other migrants traveling to safer havens via carefully guarded doors. Through one door, they wind up in a crowded camp on the Greek Island of Mykonos. Through another, they secure a private room in an abandoned London mansion populated mostly by displaced Nigerians. A third door takes them to California’s Marin County. In each location, their relationship is by turns strengthened and tested by their struggle to find food, adequate shelter and a sense of belonging among emigrant communities.
The allegorical tale shows the contrast between the migrants’ tenuous daily reality and that of the privileged second- or third-generation native population who’d prefer that their new alien neighbors simply disappear.
Tyldum most recently directed the Jennifer Lawrence-Chris Pratt sci-fi Passengers, was Oscar-nominated for the Benedict Cumberbatch starrer The Imitation Game and before that helmed the Jo Nesbo adaptation Headhunters.
All parties confirmed the new alliance. In a statement, the Russo brothers called Tyldum “an incredibly talented filmmaker, and we couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with him.”
Said Tyldum: “Joe and Anthony are phenomenal storytellers with a bold and unique vision for their company and the kind of films they and their team want to produce. As a filmmaker, it feels like coming home.”
WME had a heavy hand in putting the pieces together here, brokering the book deal for Hamid and repping Tyldum and the Russos. Tyldum is managed by Anonymous Content and Syndicate Entertainment.
Mike Larocca will be exec producer on Exit West.