Netflix Strikes $30M Deal For Dev Patel’s Buzzed-About Directorial Debut ‘Monkey Man’

Dev Patel
Dev Patel AP

EXCLUSIVE: Netflix has struck a deal in the region of $30M for most worldwide rights to Dev Patel’s directorial debut Monkey Man, we can reveal.

Filming has just finished on the movie, which will see Oscar-nominee Patel play an unlikely hero who emerges from prison to take on a world enmeshed in corporate greed and eroding spiritual values, and seeking revenge from those who took everything from him years before.

The buzz was strong for the revenge-thriller during last week’s virtual EFM and after seeing footage Netflix beat out other bidders on the project which heralds from Joker backers Bron and John Wick producers Thunder Road.

One industry insider who has seen footage described the movie to us as “John Wick in Mumbai”. Netflix is due to release it in 2022.

Also starring in the film, we can reveal today, are Sharlto Copley (District 9), Sobhita Dhulipala (Psycho Raman), Sikandar Kher (24: India) and Pitobash Tripathy (Million Dollar Arm).

Slumdog Millionaire and Lion star Patel wrote the script with Paul Angunawela and his Hotel Mumbai collaborator John Collee. The film is partly inspired by the Hindu myth about the deity Hanuman who is half man, half monkey.

Actor and first-time filmmaker Patel said in a statement sent to us: “I’m so thrilled to be partnering with Netflix on this adventure. I hope this will be a fresh addition to the genre at a time in this industry where my story can become our story. Shooting a film during a pandemic has been quite challenging to say the least, but the opportunity to reimagine stories from my childhood and infuse them with my love of action cinema has been an absolute joy. Big love to Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee for championing us from the very beginning and Aaron Gilbert and the team at Bron for giving an unproven filmmaker like myself a voice.”

The film was due to shoot in India last year but according to local reports had to re-route to Indonesia due to the pandemic.

Netflix has acquired world rights, excluding existing deals in Spain, Latin America, Iceland, Former Yugoslavia, Poland, Russia & Baltic States, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Pan-Asian PTV and China.

Endeavor Content struck the deal with Netflix and handled international sales.

Our understanding is that the streamer would have preferred worldwide rights but a number of buyers with signed deals wanted to hold onto the buzz project and got to do so. However, one buyer told us they had to “sadly” relinquish the project due to a local dubbing issue that came about from the Netflix acquisition. We hear there were also distributors that loved the project at previous markets but didn’t ultimately get it because they didn’t want to sign “buy-back” clauses.

Producers are Dev Patel; Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee; Jomon Thomas; Samarth Sahni; Christine Haebler; and Anjay Nagpal. Executive producers are Thunder Road’s Jonathan Fuhrman; Bron’s Aaron L. Gilbert; Creative Wealth’s Jason Cloth; Bron’s Steven Thibault; and Natalya Pavchinskaya.

Patel most recently starred in The Personal History of David Copperfield and next stars in A24’s The Green Knight, which will be released at the end of July 2021. Monkey Man is a co-production between Bron Studios and Thunder Road Pictures, in association with Creative Wealth Media.

The deal marks the latest big swing from Netflix during the virtual EFM. As we revealed, the streamer broke records with the acquisitions of movies such as The Pale Blue Eye and The Ice Road. Colin Firth pic Operation Mincemeat was also among its haul.

Patel is repped by WME, Magnolia Entertainment, Curtis Brown and attorney Jamie Feldman.

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