Berlin: 'Pele' Biopic Won't Be Ready in Time for World Cup (Exclusive)

9:00 PM PST 02/09/2014 by Scott Roxborough , Stuart Kemp
"Pele"

Post-production delays mean the hotly-anticipated project about the legendary Brazilian soccer player will miss its planned launch tied to the global sporting event.

Berlin — Pele, the biopic about the legendary Brazilian soccer player and one of the hottest market titles at last year’s EFM, has hit injury time.

A lengthy spell in post-production and reshoots for the project, written and directed by Michael Zimbalist and Jeff Zimbalist, means Pele won’t be ready for delivery before this summer's soccer World Cup.

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Many buyers pre-bought the title on the guarantee that it would go out before the World Cup's kickoff in Brazil June 12, hoping the hype surrounding the sporting event would create massive free publicity for the event movie.

THR has learned that delays to the production have triggered a clause in pre-buy contracts giving buyers the opportunity to drop the movie and cancel their deals. At least one major buyer has pulled out while others are believed to be weighing their options. Exclusive Media, who are selling the film internationally and who are currently in the the midst of a dramatic corporate shuffle, declined to comment.

Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer and Seine Pictures' Ivan Orlic are producing Pele with Kim Roth and Colin Wilson executive producing.

Newcomers Leonardo Lima Carvalho and Kevin de Paula will both play the soccer star at different stages in his young life, with Carvalho playing Pele between ages 10 through 13 and De Paula playing him between the ages of 13 and 17.

Vincent D'Onofrio, Rodrigo Santoro, Diego Boneta, Colm Meaney and Seu Jorge also star. The film is described as an origins story, chronicling Pele's rise from the slums of Sao Paulo to become the people's hero when, as a 17-year-old, he led Brazil to its first World Cup victory, in 1958.

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Domestic rights for the film are jointly repped by CAA and WME.

The movie - and Pele himself - enjoys a huge fan base and global following, which made the project an easy pre-sale world-wide, despite the fact that movies based on soccer traditionally find it hard to generate big box office business. The film was pre-bought in a slew of major territories including the U.K. and Germany, two soccer mad nations, by Entertainment One and A Company respectively. Berlin-based A Company has exercised its option to exit the film, as it was planning its release strategy around the summer soccer tournament.

Entertainment One could not be reached for comment at time of going to press. Sources close to the deals said negotiations were ongoing over the future commitment for the film by the Canadian-owned giant.

Pele remains a project with a high pedigree. In addition to Grazer and Orlic, the Pele team includes multiple Oscar-winning editor Michael Kahn, Steven Spielberg's longtime collaborator. Pele shot in Brazil last year.

Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures are behind the production, with the latter fully financing the film, having licensed the footballer's life rights from Sports Licensing International.

Also in the cast are Brazilian actors Marianna Nunes, Milton Goncales, Rafael Henrique, Marcus Vinicius, Julio Levy, Thelmo Fernandes, Felipe Simas, Charles Myara, Jerome Franz and Roger Haag.

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