EXCLUSIVE: Brit-Iranian director Babak Anvari, whose sophomore feature Wounds will play in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, has boarded suspense-thriller Departure, which is being developed by Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label.
Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) has scripted the long-gestating buzz project which tells the story of how a series of airplanes mysteriously disappear and reappear while in flight, and a young FAA investigator becomes obsessed with the case. The mystery becomes personal when he finds out that his fiancé is on one of the planes. Writer-director Anvari will also work on the screenplay.
Former Imagine president Jim Whitaker (Flightplan) is producing through Whitaker Entertainment; Lucan Toh, who produced Anvari’s Wounds and Under The Shadow, is also producing; as is Ray, who adapted the project from book Ghosts Of The Air by Martin Caidin.
Brady Fujikawa will oversee for Lionsgate and Adam Borba will oversee for Whitaker Entertainment. The project has attracted different directors during its development. Oscar-nominee Ray, who recently co-scripted Ang Lee’s Gemini Man, was initially aboard to direct. Cast and production date are yet to be set.
Anvari previously helmed acclaimed thriller Under The Shadow, about a mother and daughter struggling to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war-torn Tehran of the 1980s. The film won Anvari the 2017 BAFTA award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer. His latest feature Wounds, starring Armie Hammer, Dakota Johnson and Zazie Beetz, debuted at Sundance and will play in Cannes later this month.
Anvari is repped by WME, Independent Talent, Grandview, and Julian Zajfen at Ziffren Brittenham.