EXCLUSIVE: Terrence Malick’s Cannes Film Festival competition drama has been hailed as an impressive return to form for the U.S. writer-director. Buyers immediately began circling after the film’s debut here yesterday, and Fox Searchlight has come out on top for U.S and a number of international markets in a highly competitive situation.
According to sources, deal is pegged at $12 million-$14 million and was hatched overnight with CAA Media Finance and Mister Smith. Paramount, Focus, A24, Netflix and others were among buyers hot on the trail. The deal is one of the biggest ever at a market for a movie shot in Germany.
The English- and German-language film charts the moving true story of Austrian Franz Jägerstätter (played by August Diel), a conscientious objector who refused to fight for the Nazis during World War II. Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Nyqvist, Valerie Pachner, Jurgen Prochnow, Alexander Fehling and the late Bruno Ganz also star.
A Hidden Life is Malick’s first film to play in Cannes’ Competition lineup since 2011’s drama The Tree of Life, and many critics are calling it his best film since that Oscar nominee. Malick attended the premiere Sunday which was greeted by a roughly five-minute standing ovation.
Mister Smith is handling foreign sales. France, Germany and Scandinavia were among the few markets already gone. Producers are Grant Hill, Dario Bergesio, Josh Jester and Elisabeth Bentley. The film was in post-production for almost three years as the meticulous auteur spent his time getting the movie just as he wanted.
Cannes business has been solid so far. The excellent quality of the festival lineup has helped augment business in the market, which is awash with packages. Projects such as Moonfall, Down Under Cover, Operation Mincemeat, The Climb, Les Miserables, Sorry We Missed You, Harry Haft, Misanthrope and The Power of the Dog are just a handful of those to have garnered serious attention from buyers.
Festival titles such as Rocketman, Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory, and hard-hitting French drama Les Miserables are among those being talked about as potential awards-season contenders. Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse has also drawn raves.
Palme d’Or entrants Pain and Glory and Les Miserables are likely to feature in some form come this weekend’s prize ceremony.