After making a Cannes splash with its acquisition of Roland Emmerich’s big budget sci-fi project Moonfall, the newly-formed German indie conglomerate founded by KKR and Fred Kogel, has confirmed a series of further high-profile pick-ups made on the Croisette. They include Robert Lorenz’s The Minuteman starring Liam Neeson; feel-good comedy Let There Be Rock from UK helmer Philip John; the Lisa Ellzey-produced Unhinged with Russell Crowe; and Rothchild, a black comedy from Jon S Baird that stars Shia LaBeouf and Mel Gibson.
The as-yet unnamed German studio, made up of Tele München Group, Universum Film & TV and Wiedemann & Berg Film, aggressively came to market and reps a key new player in the European major which saw a box office downturn in 2018. All of the titles acquired in Cannes will be released theatrically.
CEO Kogel says, “The Cannes Film Festival was the prelude to our purchasing activities with a joint team as a newly founded company just a few days after the takeover of Tele München and Universum Film. For this reason, too, this was a particularly exciting market for us… With the acquisition of Moonfall, the best and most commercial film of the festival, we set a clear sign for our positioning. Our aim is to build a varied cinema slate of international blockbusters, promising independent films and outstanding German cinema productions.”
The statement-making Moonfall acquisition, believed to be in the low eight-figures, was one of the biggest German (and European) deals at a market in years. The $150M action disaster film is described as a mix of Independence Day and 2012 with a story that sees the moon moving out of its orbit and threatening to fall to Earth. AGC Studios and CAA Media Finance are handling world sales.
Adding to the slate is Lorenz’s The Minuteman, an adrenaline-charged action thriller with Neeson as a Vietnam veteran who takes a child to safety from the killers of a drug cartel. The script was written by Chris Charles and Danny Kravitz. Voltage Pictures is on international sales with CAA and UTA Independent Film Group co-repping U.S. rights.
Let There Be Rock, from Gold Circle Films and Temple Hill Entertainment, is about a young man who returns to the small town of his childhood to attend his father’s funeral. Together with his old friends he commits and is caught for a burglary, but instead of the usual punishment, the judge sends the group into the local men’s choir where Welsh tradition and hard rock collide.
Unhinged takes an ordinary, everyday incident to its most terrifying conclusion in telling the story of a mother who leans on her horn at the wrong time, to the wrong guy (Crowe). Derrick Borte is directing from a script by Carl Ellsworth. Solstice Studios is releasing domestically and selling the picture which is its first to go into production.
In Rothchild, LaBeouf is an illegitimate descendant of a wealthy New York dynasty. His desire to get a share of his assets fails because of his grandfather (Gibson), and a murderous conspiracy is hatched to remedy the situation. The story was written by John Patton Ford. HanWay launched sales in Cannes with CAA Media Finance on North America.