In a highly competitive situation and the first major deal of the Cannes virtual market, MGM has landed global distribution rights to Zoe Kravitz’s directorial debut Pussy Island. The original film, written by Kravitz and E.T. Feigenbaum, will star Naomi Ackie alongside Channing Tatum. Bruce Cohen, Kravitz, Tiffany Persons and Tatum’s Free Association will produce, with Garret Levitz overseeing for Free Association.
Deadline revealed the project last week, and Kravitz described to Deadline the role she’d written for the lead actress; she said it was one that she would have loved to be playing, if she wasn’t directing. In Ackie, she has landed a BAFTA winner who will play Whitney Houston in the Sony biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody from director Stella Meghie. Ackie currently stars in Season 3 of Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s Master of None, on which she also serves as an executive producer. Ackie starred in the second season of Netflix’s BAFTA-winning End of the F*cking World.
Michael De Luca, MGM’s Film Group chairman, and Pamela Abdy, MGM’s Film Group president, said of the acquisition: “We are incredibly excited to be part of Zoe’s directorial debut. This is a timely and insightful thriller, with a biting humor that we anticipate audiences will be utterly captivated by. Pussy Island is going to be an epic beginning to Zoe’s directing career.”
Said Kravitz: “I am honored to be partnering with an iconic studio such as MGM for this project. Their commitment to the art of storytelling is something that I truly admire and respect. Naomi Ackie is an extraordinary talent and we can’t wait to see her bring this role to life.”
Ackie will play Frida, a young, clever, Los Angeles cocktail waitress who has her eyes set on the prize: philanthropist and tech mogul Slater King (Tatum). When she skillfully maneuvers her way into King’s inner circle and ultimately an intimate gathering on his private island, she is ready for a journey of a lifetime. Despite the epic setting, beautiful people, ever-flowing champagne and late-night dance parties, Frida can sense that there’s more to this island than meets the eye. Something she can’t quite put her finger on. Something terrifying.
Ackie also starred in J.J Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX, The Rise of Skywalker. She received a British Independent Film Award in the category of Most Promising Newcomer, a nomination in the category of Best Supporting Actress and two UK National Film Award nominations in the categories of Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer for her turn as Anna in William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth. She has also appeared in Idris Elba’s directorial debut Yardie, The Corrupted, and Bisexual for Channel 4 and Hulu.
FilmNation handled international rights, with CAA Media Finance representing domestic rights. Atwater Capital helped to finance development of the script.
MGM has a first-look feature film production deal with Tatum, Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan’s Free Association. MGM is releasing Tatum & Carolin’s directorial debut Dog in 2022.
Ackie is represented by CAA, Hamilton Hodell and Range Media Partners. Kravitz is repped by CAA and Untitled. Tatum is with CAA.