Filming is due to get underway on January 24 in Alicante, Spain, with additional casting set to be revealed soon. Significant deals have also closed with local buyers in a handful of overseas markets with STX handling the sales and financing (which is now complete) for Ritchie.
In the $55M-budgeted action-thriller, Gyllenhaal will play Sgt. John Kinley, who is on his last tour of duty in Afghanistan when he is teamed with local interpreter Ahmed to survey the region. When their unit is ambushed on patrol, Kinley and Ahmed are the only survivors, and with enemy combatants in pursuit, Ahmed risks his life to carry an injured Kinley across miles of grueling terrain to safety. Back on U.S. soil, Kinley learns that Ahmed and his family were not given passage to America as promised. Determined to protect his friend and repay his debt, Kinley returns to the warzone to retrieve Ahmed and his family before the local militias reach them first.
This was an interesting one to follow given its hybrid streamer/theatrical and studio/indie distribution model, indicative of the evolving independent landscape. In recent years, a few of these in-demand packages have been snapped up by streamers in global deals that were too good for producers to turn down. This project had a different journey. Either way, Ritchie and his partners on the movie, including regular writing-producing collaborator Ivan Atkinson and former studio exec Josh Berger in his first movie since he left Warner Bros, positioned themselves to be able to drive their own financing strategy and ultimately retain a high level of creative and financial control.
While the U.S. and international deals were done separately, the outcome is intriguing for what it means for the combined buying power of Amazon and MGM going forward. Will this model be something the pair look to do more of in coming years as the dust settles on Amazon’s $8.4BN mega-deal for the James Bond studio.
It was Amazon that stumped up more than 50% of the budget on this one, we understand. Prime Video has picked up rights in Europe, Australia, Canada, Latin America, and South Africa, and also has the post-theatrical window in the U.S. MGM have a traditional theatrical window in the U.S. and will release via its United Artists Releasing banner.
However, Amazon and MGM weren’t the only key partners. Significant pre-production finance came from Russian financier and tech company Yandex, which owns local streamer Kinopoisk. Kinopoisk has all rights in CIS territories. Their investment marks the first time a Russian streaming service has played a key role in co-financing a film by a top international director.
Indie distributors have also taken rights to the film in Asia and Middle East. Buyers include Kino in Japan, Joy N Cinema in Korea, Moviecloud in Taiwan and Phars in the Middle East. Local tax credits in Spain and Comerica bank also make up pieces of the finance puzzle.
Ritchie will direct from a script he co-wrote with Atkinson and Marn Davies. Ritchie and Atkinson are producing via their Toff Guys production banner alongside Berger and STXfilms’ John Friedberg. Olga Filipuk will executive produce for Yandex-owned Kinopoisk.
Oscar-nominee Gyllenhaal is coming off Antoine Fuqua’s The Guilty and Michael Bay’s The Ambulance.
Ritchie said today: “Jake Gyllenhaal is a fantastic talent. At last I have found a perfect project on which we can collaborate.”
STX’s John Friedberg commented: “This will be our third collaboration with Guy and STX is proud to be in a position to support extraordinary filmmakers like him, especially when working with such strong material – I’m thrilled that we were able to put this film together alongside Ivan and Josh.”
“Guy Ritchie is one of the most beloved directors in Russia. Supporting a top global filmmaker with a massive following in Russia is a key strategic step for Kinopoisk as we commence developing and co-producing international projects. We are excited to begin our relationship with Guy, Josh and Ivan on such an important film,” added Olga Filipuk.
Ritchie and MGM/UAR recently teamed up on Wrath Of Man, starring Jason Statham. The director and STX combined on The Gentlemen and upcoming action pic Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre, also starring Statham. While President and MD Of Warner Bros UK, Ireland, and Spain, Berger oversaw releases of Ritchie’s movies including RocknRolla, Man From Uncle and King Arthur.
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