EXCLUSIVE: In a bold buy for the freshly recapitalized Miramax Films, Miramax CEO Bill Block has closed a $30M + world rights deal and committed to finance Toff Guys, the next film that Guy Ritchie will direct. Deadline broke news last week that Ritchie was heading toward a return to the style of inherently British gangster filmmaking that launched a genre with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and redefined it with Snatch.
CAA Media Finance and Rocket Science brought to the Cannes market the script that Ritchie wrote with Marn Davies and Ivan Atkinson and it sure didn’t take long for this one to gain traction. In the film, Ritchie will explore the collision between old money European wealth and the modern marijuana industrial complex with new gang entrants swarming. Block and Miramax Consultant Crystal Bourbeau — former EVP of international sales and distribution at Lionsgate — worked with CAA and Rocket Science’s Thorsten Schumacher to seal the deal. Ritchie is producing the film.
“Movies like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels launched Guy’s career and opened up a new genre to audiences,” said Block in confirming all this. “We are thrilled to work with a master filmmaker in his element who is committed to delivering a super fun kick ass theatrical experience.”
This is the first major deal for Miramax since it secured last week a multi-bank revolving credit facility of $300 million in a five-year agreement that will help ramp up the studio’s production slate. The funding, led by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and MUFG Union Bank, is to provide financing for Miramax to produce four- to six films a year and deficit finance two to three television series, the studio said.
Rocket Science will now make strategic international territorial distribution deals at Cannes, and it is unclear when CAA Media Finance will broker a domestic deal. Ritchie will begin production in September so there is no rush. The last time Miramax did this, its strategy worked to great success when I, Tonya premiered at Toronto last fall, got the deal with 30WEST and NEON, and the film grossed just north of $30 million, brought Margot Robbie an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and Allison Janney won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
While Ritchie has been working squarely in the studio tent pole space with films like Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the recently completed live action Aladdin, Toff Guys has a different sensibility. Here’s what to expect, per insiders: Pic is set at the intersection of Sexy Beast and Downton Abbey, and 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. The propulsion is Ritchie’s signature hyper-real and high-energy shooting, with inherently English dialogue that is hard for some of us to understand as it’s delivered rapid-fire by fast-talking, quirky characters. The early films launched the careers of Jason Statham, Dexter Fletcher, Vinnie Jones, Jason Flemyng and a bunch of other blokes. That style collides with the American “Okies,” who bring a lyrical banter all their own as urban and rural lifestyles collide. Insiders said it’s “about old money, new money, and show me the money.”