Lionsgate Re-Acquires Rights To Distribute Gerard Butler Thriller ‘The Plane’ After Solstice Deal Failed To Take Off

Gerard Butler Lionsgate
Gerard Butler, Lionsgate Mega; Lionsgate

EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has re-acquired rights to distribute Gerard Butler action thriller The Plane in North America, Latin America, the UK and India.

As we revealed last year, Solstice Studios had boarded worldwide rights to The Plane after Lionsgate initially hit Covid-related insurance issues on the project, which was one of the hot packages at last year’s American Film Market. But the final points on the Solstice deal couldn’t be agreed on and the movie is now heading back to Lionsgate in a case of high-profile Hollywood volleyball.

With much of the world re-opening after the ravages of the pandemic, the studio now feels better about taking on the risk and we understand production is due to begin this summer in Puerto Rico.

The Plane — which was pitched with a budget of around $50 million at last year’s AFM — follows commercial pilot Ray Torrance (Butler) who, after a heroic job of successfully landing his storm-damaged aircraft in hostile territory, finds himself threatened by militant pirates who are planning to take the plane and its passengers hostage. As the world’s authorities and media search for the disappeared aircraft, Torrance must rise to the occasion and keep his passengers safe long enough for help to arrive.

Pic will be directed by Jean-François Richet and written by JP Davis (Violence of Action) and Charles Cumming, based on the book by Cumming. Producing are Di Bonaventura Pictures’ Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian, MadRiver Pictures’ Marc Butan, and Butler and Alan Siegel under their G-BASE banner.

Lionsgate’s President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions Jason Constantine told us: “We have always been big believers in this movie as well as huge fans of Gerry and everyone involved, so we could not be more thrilled to be back as the distributor. We’re so, so glad that everything worked out in the end, and the movie is back with Lionsgate.”

Butler also stars in the Has Fallen franchise for Lionsgate. The most recent film, Angel Has Fallen, took in north of $145M. The studio is currently developing the next film in the franchise, Night Has Fallen.

MadRiver International handled international sales on The Plane and will now be shopping the remaining territories. Constantine oversaw the deal for Lionsgate along with EVP Acquisitions and EVP Business and Legal Affairs John Biondo, Executive VP of Business and Legal Affairs Eda Kowan and EVP Business and Legal Affairs John Biondo.
The Plane is the second movie to move off Solstice’s slate this year after we revealed last week that Good Joe Bell is being re-routed to Roadside and Vertical. Where does that leave Mark Gill’s upstart mini-studio, which was launched in 2018 but to date has only released Russell Crowe-starrer Unhinged.
Solstice, whose model is predicated on wide theatrical releases, has been hit hard by Covid much like every other traditional film firm. In December, we revealed layoffs and pay deferrals at the company, which does sales, distribution and production. The deep-pocketed streamers also make for tough competition.
But the tarmac isn’t empty. We gather there are multiple high-profile projects likely to be greenlit this year including Ben Affleck project Hypnotic. We hear the company’s two principal financiers, one of whom is Ingenious, remain committed, and the Toronto Film Festival is being pinpointed as the next sales launchpad.

Butler is represented by CAA and Alan Siegel Entertainment.

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