EXCLUSIVE: Roadside Attractions and Vertical Entertainment have co-acquired North American rights to The Forgiven, a starry thriller written and directed by John Michael McDonagh (The Guard, Calvary), which premiered at the 2021 Toronto Film Festival. Roadside will release the film in theaters next spring, with Vertical handling its digital rollout.
The Forgiven is based on the novel of the same name by Lawrence Osborne. It centers on wealthy Londoners David (Ralph Fiennes) and Jo Henninger (Jessica Chastain), who are involved in a tragic accident with a local teenage boy, after speeding through the Moroccan desert to attend an old friend’s lavish weekend party. Arriving late at the grand villa with the debauched party raging, the couple attempts to cover up the incident with the collusion of the local police. But when the boy’s father arrives seeking justice, the stage is set for a tension-filled culture clash in which David and Jo must come to terms with their fateful act and its shattering consequences.
Matt Smith (The Crown, Last Night in Soho), Saïd Taghmaoui (G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), Abbey Lee (The Neon Demon, Mad Max: Fury Road), Mourad Zaoui (The Spy, Zanka Contact), Caleb Landry Jones (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Get Out), Ismael Kanater (Queen of the Desert, The Honorable Woman), and Christopher Abbott (Possessor, Black Bear) round out the cast of the film, which Elizabeth Eves and McDonagh produced via their House of Un-American Activities label, alongside Trevor Matthews and Nick Gordon of Brookstreet Pictures.
Brookstreet Pictures financed the film with LipSync Productions, Film4, BFI, Head Gear, Metrol Technology, and Assemble Media, with Norman Merry exec producing for LipSync, alongside Daniel Battsek and Ollie Madden for Film4, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross for Head Gear, and Jack Heller and Scott Veltri for Assemble Media.
Focus Features and Universal Pictures International have acquired international territories; Film4 holds UK television rights.
“When we saw this film in Toronto, we immediately fell in love with it. The story unfolds in a beautifully crafted way that surprises you at every turn,” said Roadside Attractions’ Co-Presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff in a joint statement. “We are thrilled to be partnered with Vertical Entertainment on the release and look forward to working with the incredible artists involved on this project.”
“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Roadside to bring McDonagh’s and Osborne’s visions to life with this stylish yet sinister tale,” added Vertical Entertainment Partner Peter Jarowey. “The immensely talented cast takes you right along with them as the story dramatically builds to its heart-stopping conclusion.”
“Adapted from the masterful novel by Lawrence Osborne, The Forgiven was a cinematic adventure whose cast and crew achieved everything I ever hoped for as a filmmaker. Performances, cinematography, production design, costume design, editing, sound, score, and the wonderful Moroccan locations all combined to create what I hope will be a unique theatrical experience for audiences worldwide, overwhelmed as they are by superheroes on jungle cruises,” added McDonagh. “I’m wholeheartedly thankful to Roadside Attractions and Vertical Entertainment for releasing The Forgiven in North America, for their passion and commitment, and for continuing to fight the good fight for independent film.”
Howard Cohen negotiated the acquisition deal on behalf of Roadside Attractions, with Jarowey on behalf of Vertical Entertainment, and CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers.