Toronto Update: Re-Branding Millennium Seals Deal For ‘Madame Bovary’

UPDATE, 9:23 AM: Millennium has officially confirmed the Madame Bovary acquisition that I scooped was happening over the weekend. The deal was finalized ahead of its Toronto screening set for tomorrow. The full release is below our original exclusive.

PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, SATURDAY PM: Millennium Entertainment is getting close to a seven-figure deal to acquire U.S. rights to Madame Bovary, the Sophie Barthes-directed film that stars Mia Wasikowska, Paul Giamatti, and Ezra Miller.

The film is set in period France, and focuses on two years in the life of the beautiful wife of a small-town doctor. She engages in extra-marital affairs in an attempt to advance her social status. I’m hearing that companies like A24 and Sony Pictures Classics are still in the mix, but it looks like this one will close tonight. It premieres Wednesday in the Special Presentations section, but buyers caught it yesterday at a P&I screening and others saw it in Telluride. WME Global is brokering the sale.

toronto badgeThe feeling on the film is that Barthes will emerge as a filmmaker to watch, and the deal is also intriguing in that it’s the first effort in a rebranding campaign for Millennium Entertainment since the management team led by CEO Bill Lee and private investment firm Virgo Investment Group teamed to acquire Millennium’s catalog assets and film-distribution platform from a consortium including majority owner Nu Image.

Millennium had been the distribution arm of Avi Lerner’s Nu Image, and the company was pursued by EuropaCorp and others. Now that things have settled, it will get a new company name. That’s most welcome, because it was confusing as hell trying to distinguish between this company and Millennium Films, the label that also has gotten ambitious since Mark Gill took the reins there.

Occupant Entertainment’s Joe Neurauter and Felipe Marino produced the Bovary screenplay that was written by Felipe Marino and Barthes.

LOS ANGELES September 9, 2014 – Millennium Entertainment announced today that they have acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Sophie Barthes’ (Cold Souls) passionate drama Madame Bovary, starring Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Maps to the Stars), Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Saving Mr. Banks), Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man, “Elementary”), Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Anna Karenina), Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) and Laura Carmichael (“Downtown Abbey”). Felipe Marino adapted the screenplay from Gustave Flaubert’s classic novel of the same name with Barthes. The film made its world debut in Telluride and will play in Toronto on Wednesday, September 10.

In Madame Bovary, Emma (Wasikowska) has always dreamt of a finer life than the one she has on her father’s pig farm, and marrying Mr. Charles Bovary would make this possible. However, her new life fails to engage her, nor realize her dreams. Feeling trapped, Emma seeks solace with other men including a passionate kindred spirit named Leon and a wealthy nobleman, the Marquis. A series of affairs and the temptation of living above her means lead Emma down a path that leaves her immersed in debt and turned into a desperate, needy and emotionally impulsive being. Confronted with her many mistakes, her guilt consumes her, eventually leading to her demise.

Occupant Entertainment’s Felipe Marino and Joe Neurauter produced the film in association with Barthes via her Aden Film banner and Aleph Motion Picture’s Jaime Mateus-Tique (Nobody’s Watching). Funding came from film financing specialists VP Finance and Prescience with Tim Smith and Paul Brett taking Executive Producer credits as well as Scope Pictures, Genevieve Lemal and A Company Filmproduktion’s Alexander van Duelmen and Kai Kuennemann. WME Global is handling the U.S. rights to the film with Mimi Steinbauer of Radiant Films International handling foreign sales.

Bill Lee negotiated the deal on behalf of Millennium Entertainment while WME Global negotiated on behalf of the filmmakers.

This deal follows the recent announcement that the management team of Millennium Entertainment led by Bill Lee, and Virgo Investment Group LLC, a private investment firm, partnered to acquire the Millennium Entertainment catalog assets and film distribution platform from a consortium of investors. As a part of the transaction, Millennium Entertainment will undergo a name change in the coming months.

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