The selection of the hot titles can be fluid until the first Friday, when packages either fall together or fall by the wayside when elements drop out, or just don’t coalesce quickly enough. The latter happened on Destroyer, the WWII drama that Mel Gibson will direct from a Rosalind Ross script, with Mark Wahlberg to play Becton, the captain of the USS Laffey who skippered one destroyer sunk by Japanese Kamikaze planes during World War II, and is hellbent on not seeing it happen again. The film got a very important tax break to shoot in Australia, and has strong interest from Warner Bros for a world rights deal and Lionsgate for domestic. The film likely will be Gibson’s next directing project – the visceral war chaos he brought to Braveheart, Apocalypto and Hacksaw Ridge shows how well tailored he is to Ross’s script, but no Cannes do at this market. Here are the ones that did come together and the list might be amended to include a few others based on buzz today:
355 – In a #MeToo moment, how irresistible is a Bourne Identity spy thriller with an international ensemble featuring Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Fan Binbing and Lupita Nyong’o, directed by Simon Kinberg? FilmNation and CAA Media Finance will unveil 355 — named for the mysterious first female spy in the American Revolution — Thursday at the Majestic Hotel, with all the actresses flying in to take part in what they all hope will be the birth of a new film franchise. That in itself might be the most eagerly awaited Cannes group pitch meeting since Tom Ford described Nocturnal Animals, said he wasn’t selling, and then a buyer stampede ended when he made a world rights deal with Universal/Focus.
The American — Jake Gyllenhaal will play iconic composer Leonard Bernstein in The American, with Beasts of No Nation’s Cary Joji Fukunaga directing. The Michael Mitnick-scripted adaptation of the Hunphrey Burton biography follows Bernstein from conducting the New York Philharmonic at the age of 25 through a meteoric rise to fame, all while struggling both personally and publicly to be everything that everyone expected him to be, most of all himself. BRON Studios is producing/financing and Endeavor Content is selling North America while Sierra/Affinity brokers overseas deals at Cannes.
At Eternity’s Gate – Julian Schnabel is a strong match to an exploration of Vincent Van Gogh’s struggle to be understood and accepted as a painter, and the depths he fell. Willem Dafoe takes on the painter after his Oscar nominated turn in The Florida Project, and Oscar Isaac as his friend and supporter Paul Guaguin. The promo crackles with awards season potential for CAA Media Finance, which is selling domestic while Rocket Science brokers overseas. Schnabel’s Diving Bell and Butterfly star Mathieu Amalric and Rupert Friend also star.
Toff Guys –Guy Ritchie is returning to the style of filmmaking that launched his directing career with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. His next film — after numerous studio outings that include Sherlock Holmes and Aladdin — will be a stylized and inherently British drama. CAA Media Finance is selling domestic and Rocket Science international. Ritchie wrote it with Marn Davies and Ivan Atkinson. The drama follows a very English drug lord attempting to cash out on his highly profitable empire by selling it off to a dynasty of Oklahoma billionaires.
Bill & Ted Face The Music — 27 years after we last saw the totally radical pairing of Ted “Theodore” Logan and Bill S. Preston Esq., Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are now confirmed to reprise their roles in a third Bill & Ted movie. Bloom is launching international sales. Pic’s in pre-production, written by the franchise’s original creators Chris Matheson (Imagine That) and Ed Solomon (Men in Black) with Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest) directing.MGM owns the rights to the film and will release in the U.S. under their Orion Pictures banner while Bloom is handling international sales. Endeavor Content negotiated the U.S. deal.
The Bayou – Oscar winning Churchill star Gary Oldman teams with Maze Runner’s Dylan O’Brien are to star in the New Orleans-set crime thriller The Bayou, a project being sold and produced by Millennium Media. O’Brien will play the protégé of a hitman (Oldman) who becomes determined to save a teenage girl from being sold by a human-trafficking ring. Gary Fleder will direct a script by W Peter Iliff.
Charlie Johnson in the Flames — Liam Neeson, stars and Tarik Saleh directs an adaptation of the Michael Ignatieff thriller novel. Script is by Justin Haythe. 30WEST is financing. Sierra/Affinity will broker international sales and CAA Media Finance and 30 WEST will broker U.S. rights. Neeson plays the title character, a peerless BBC war correspondent covering civil unrest in the Congo. When the death of an innocent woman shakes him to his core, he risks everything to expose the truth, only to find himself embroiled in a network of murder, corruption, and violence that forces him to question his humanity.
Against All Enemies — Kristen Stewart stars as iconic actress Jean Seberg in Against All Enemies, a political thriller directed by Benedict Andrews and inspired by true events about the Breathless pixie who in the late 1960s was targeted by the illegal FBI surveillance program COINTELPRO. Jack O’Connell, Anthony Mackie, Margaret Qualley and Colm Meaney also star. Memento Films International is handling offshore sales and UTA Independent and Endeavor Content are repping North America. An American who spent half her life in France, Seberg was a darling of the French New Wave. Because of her political and romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal (Mackie), she was also a target of the FBI’s attempts to disrupt, discredit and expose the Black Power movement. O’Connell plays the ambitious young FBI agent assigned to surveil her, only to find their fates dangerously interwoven. Script is by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse.
Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark — Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro is teamed with eOne and CBS Films, which are co-financing the André Øvredal directed feature film based on Alvin Schwartz’s internationally best-selling book series. del Toro is producing and he adapted the script with Daniel and Kevin Hageman. CBS Films will release through Lionsgate and eOne is selling overseas, and releasing it in a bunch of markets. Inspired by one of the most terrifying children’s book series of all time, Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark follows a group of young teens who must solve the mystery surrounding sudden and macabre deaths in their small town.
Destroyer –– the film directed by Karyn Kusama and starring Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Tatiana Maslany, Bradley Whitford and Toby Kebbell has buyers eager to see the promo footage that Rocket Science is showing as it sells international. 30WEST financed the film, and ICM Partners and CAA are brokering domestic. The film is in post.
Corporate Animals — Protagonist is handling international and ICM Partners and UTA rep domestic. Patrick Brice (Creep franchise, The Overnight) is directing a script by Sam Bain. Sharon Stone, Jessica Williams and Ed Helms will star. Keith Calder, Jessica Calder, Ed Helms and Mike Falbo will produce.
The Forgiven — Ralph Fiennes, Rebecca Hall, Mark Strong and Saïd Taghmaoui star in the next pic by The Guard and Calvary director John Michael McDonagh. Adaptation of the Lawrence Osborne novel about the dramatic fallout following a random accident on the lives of an English couple (Fiennes and Hall), their friends and the local Moroccans who all converge on a luxurious desert villa during a decadent weekend-long party. Shooting next year in Morocco. CAA repping U.S. rights with IMR International handling foreign.
Arctic — Joe Penna directed Mads Mikkelsen in a Midnight Official Selection at Cannes, and the film is also expected to make a strong sale. UTA Independent and CAA Media Finance are brokering together. The official selection title sees a man stranded in the arctic as he embarks on a deadly trek through the unknown for potential salvation. XYZ Films selling international. Christopher Lemole, Tim Zajaros and Noah Haeussner produced.
Luce — the Julius Onah-directed film stars Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Tim Roth and Mudbound‘s Kelvin Harrison Jr. Based on the J.C. Lee’s play adapted by Lee and Onah. CAA and Endeavor Content are co-repping domestic rights and BLOOM is handling offshore. Promo footage is very impressive. Harrison Jr plays Luce Edgar, a model student, track star and champion debater, stature that pleases the parents (Watts and Roth) who adopted him from a war-torn African nation and were concerned he might be haunted by the violent trauma of his upbringing in Africa. Luce’s teacher, Harriet (Spencer), believes he represents a symbol of black excellence setting a positive example for his peers – until she discovers the well-researched paper he wrote, one littered with disturbing statements about political violence. She fears he could be dangerous as her discoveries force Luce’s parents to question their assumptions of who their adopted child really is and set a chain of events in motion that will change everyone’s lives forever.
Ironbark — Benedict Cumberbatch is set to play Cold War spy Greville Wynne.FilmNation is financing and handling international sales on the pic, working with UTA Independent on the U.S. deal. It’s based on the true story of the British businessman who helped the CIA penetrate the Soviet nuclear program during the Cold War. Wynne and his Russian source, Oleg Penkovsky (codenamed Ironbark), provided crucial intelligence that ended the Cuban Missile Crisis. On Chesil Beach helmer Dominic Cooke will direct, reuniting with Cumberbatch after the BBC drama series The Hollow Crown. The script is by Tom O’Connor (The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
Midway — Lionsgate already has domestic, but AGC Studios brings one of the big budget packages to Cannes with Roland Emmerich’s WWII action epic Midway, with Woody Harrelson and Mandy Moore to head the ensemble. Wes Tooke scripted the film about the iconic Battle of Midway, a turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II. The film follows the soldiers and aviators who helped turn the tide of the war in June 1942. Shooting begins August. Chinese outfits Starlight Entertainment Group and Providence Entertainment are financing the pic and Bona Film Group will release in China. Emmerich, Harald Kloser (White House Down), and eOne’s Mark Gordon (Saving Private Ryan) are producing with Matt Jackson exec producing. Emmerich — whose Maya Lord will now go in 2019, we understand — and Gordon are extending their relationship that began with The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. CAA brokered the Lionsgate deal last Toronto.
Blinded By The Light – Gurinder Chadha is directing and Kulvinder Ghir, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, and Sally Phillips star in a comedy/drama/musical based on memoir Greetings From Bury Park by Sarfraz Manzoor which chronicles his experiences as a British Muslim boy growing up in 1980s Luton and the impact Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics had on him. Cornerstone Films selling international.
The Sound Of Philadelphia – Jérémie Guez directs Matthias Schoenaerts, Garrett Hedlund and Scoot McNairy. Family, friendships and loyalties are betrayed in the violent world of the Philadelphia mob. Protagonist is selling international; Endeavor Content has North America.
Burning Season — Naomi Watts and It star Sophia Lillis lead director Claire McCarthy’s next feature, about a primatologist (Watts) who returns to a drought-stricken region of Madagascar in search of endangered species. Dragged along for the adventure are teenage daughter and a handsome local researcher. A complex emotional game of cat and mouse ensues between the three with devastating forest fires on their way. HanWay Films handles international sales.