EXCLUSIVE: In what will be one of the biggest movies on sale at Cannes, Stuart Ford’s recently minted AGC Studios will be enticing buyers with Roland Emmerich’s WWII action epic Midway, which we understand has Woody Harrelson and Mandy Moore in negotiations to star as part of a strong ensemble cast.
Wes Tooke’s script about the iconic Battle of Midway, a turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II, follows the soldiers and aviators who helped turn the tide of the war in June 1942. As we reported last fall, Lionsgate snapped up U.S. distribution rights through its Summit label to the Emmerich-directed project about the seminal WWII battle and the near $100m project is now moving into pre-production ahead of an August 16 start of shoot with destinations including Hawaii and Canada.
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.
This is a significant statement of intent from former IM Global chief Ford whose new outfit AGC has been staffing up in recent months. “Roland’s track record and brand as a master of big budget action films is second to none and I’m highly confident Midway will make a big splash in the Cannes marketplace,” Ford told us. The company will also be on the Croisette with big budget animation Film Five.
After a buoyant EFM in Berlin, which a handful of leading sellers told me was the best market they experienced in years, Cannes could be set to continue the upward curve for indie buyers. Among hefty projects announced this week are red-hot 355, which we revealed yesterday, and Mel Gibson’s fellow WWII epic Destroyer, which as yet does not have a seller.
Harrelson scored his third Oscar-nomination earlier this year for his turn in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and will next be seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Moore starred last year in box office hit 47 Meters Down and is also in NBC series This Is Us. The producers are pulling together a strong ensemble team to star alongside the duo in the movie, whose subject has been a rich source for filmmakers. Universal released a big budget version of the Midway battle in 1976, starring Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn and Toshiro Mifune.
Emmerich and Kloser are represented by CAA and Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal Laviolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman. Tooke is represented by WME, Kaplan Perrone Entertainment and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols & Adler. AGC’s deal was brokered between Ford, AGC COO Miguel Palos and Centropolis’ [Emmerich’s company] Head of Production Marco Shepherd and Head of Finance JP Pettinato. CAA’s Media Finance Group brokered the financing and U.S. deal on the project.