EXCLUSIVE: As the European Film Market is set to kick off this week, Lionsgate has made a splash with the acquisition of domestic distribution rights to Guy Ritchie’s upcoming World War II movie The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.
In another lucrative deal, pegged in the eight-figures, Prime Video has pre-bought a raft of international rights on the film and will distribute across Europe, Latin America, ANZ, Canada, South Africa, India and pan-Asian PayTV.
As Deadline first revealed, the buzzy cast includes Henry Cavill, Eiza González, Alan Ritchson, Henrique Zaga, Henry Golding, Alex Pettyfer, Cary Elwes, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Babs Olusanmokun and Til Schweiger.
The film charts the true story of a secret WWII combat organization formed by UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill and James Bond scribe Ian Fleming. The clandestine squad’s unconventional and entirely “ungentlemanly” fighting techniques against the Nazis helped changed the course of the war and gave birth to the modern Black Ops unit. Ritchie is eyeing the project as a franchise.
The film starts principal photography today in Turkey and Lionsgate is targeting a 2024 wide theatrical release.
Following the devastating earthquake in the country, Ritchie and the producers commented: “As we begin production in Turkey, we do so with profound sympathy for everyone affected. Our thoughts are with the members of our crew with family in the region. We wish to express our sincere condolences to the people of Turkey. We stand by them and are committed to supporting members of our production team and the wider community over the coming weeks and months.”
Ritchie has been putting Ministry together over the past months while he is in the middle of post on his other war pic The Covenant.
Ministry, penned by Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, Arash Amel and Ritchie, is based on war correspondent and military historian Damien Lewis’ book of the same name. Tamasy and Johnson initiated the project and sold it as a pitch to Bruckheimer and Paramount in 2015.
Hot on the heels of Top Gun: Maverick, which recently earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, super-producer Bruckheimer is producing alongside Chad Oman, Ritchie’s producing partner Ivan Atkinson, and John Friedberg for Black Bear International.
Executive producers include Scott Lastaiti, Olga Filipuk, Lewis, and Tamasy and Johnson. Black Bear International arranged the financing for the film and is handling worldwide sales, which will continue at the EFM.
Eda Kowan, John Biondo and Christopher Davis oversaw the acquisition and negotiation on behalf of Lionsgate. Jill Silfen led the deal for Black Bear International, and Sam Wollman and Jay Patel oversaw the deal for Prime Video.
“I have been fortunate enough to partner with Guy on a number of films over the years and he always delivers something that audiences crave – original, action-packed and entertaining theatrical experiences. I am delighted to be teaming up again to bring Ministry and its amazing cast to audiences,” said Adam Fogelson, vice chair, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.
“Ministry is precisely what cinemas need right now — larger-than-life entertainment with incredible talent on both sides of the camera and an unbelievable true story,” added Bruckheimer. “We are thrilled to partner with Adam and Lionsgate to bring this to theaters across the U.S., as well as our incredible international partners, including Prime Video.”
“Along with Guy, Jerry and Ivan, we have once again put together a truly commercial film with real scope and audience appeal,” said Friedberg. “This has all been made possible thanks to our first rate partners and friends, including Adam and the Lionsgate team, the Prime Video group, and our critically important local partners around the world.”
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