EXCLUSIVE: Another major sale coming out of the Virtual Cannes Market. Paramount Pictures has won North American rights to The United States Vs. Bilie Holiday, with Lee Daniels directing, producing, co-writing the script on the legendary jazz singer. Andra Day (Marshall) plays the iconic singer and Suzan-Lori Parkes wrote the script. Studio made an 8-figure commitment. It’s a big picture for Paramount at a time when the studio just as it tapped Emma Watts to be Motion Picture Group President.
The deal happened after Sierra/Affinity unveiled four minutes of footage to international buyers, and that sparked a strong pursuit by studios with Focus Features, Sony and 101 Studios, and it came down to 101 and Paramount. The picture is in post-production, and the plan is for it to be a major awards season release in the upcoming season. The international markets are expected to sell out quickly. The North American deal was brokered by Cassian Elwes and Endeavor Content.
Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund, Natasha Lyonne, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph also star in the film. When Deadline reported it would be part of Virtual Cannes, Daniels said: “With the world’s eyes forced to look at the centuries-old oppression of Black people, I hope The United States Vs. Billie Holiday will add to this important conversation by shining a light on systemic racism and social injustice. I also feel that in this time of great reckoning it is essential we celebrate the life and artistry of an unsung Civil Rights warrior, Billie Holiday.”
The film is produced by New Slate Ventures, Lee Daniels Entertainment, Roth Kirschenbaum Films with Jordan Fudge, Lee Daniels, Pamela Oas Williams, Tucker Tooley, Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum. Executive Producers include Hilary Shor, Jeremy Allen, Patty Long, Johann Hari, Elwes, Mark Bomback and Dennis Stratton.
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