Cannes 2012: 'Battleship' Director Peter Berg's Next Movie Sells Out Global Rights
Foresight Unlimited has virtually sold out of Peter Berg’s U.S. Navy Seals action-drama Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch and Ben Foster.
The film is a passion project for Berg, who was in Cannes on Friday and Saturday to meet with foreign buyers just as his tentpole Battleship was opening in the U.S. Battleship's weak domestic debut hardly dimmed interest in Lone Survivor, based on the non-fiction book by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.
Foresight’s Mark Damon said all but four territories, including Australia, Germany and Benelux, have been sold (Foresight has done equally as well with Gerard Butler starrer Motor City, from director Albert Hughes). Damon said at least one studio may pick up multiple foreign territories for Lone Survivor, which is being distributed in the U.S. by Universal.
“There were some questions about the subject matter and Peter’s coming here was not just that of a director who’s had enormous success, it was his passion for the project. This isn’t a standard American-Iraqi-Afghanistan kind of picture,” said Damon, who is enjoying another boom market.
“It may seem presumptuous to compare it to Apocalypse Now, Deer Hunter or Platoon, but he did say that what made those pictures so special was the human element. That’s what he plans to do with this,” he continued.
Lone Survivor chronicles the failed June 28, 2005, mission "Operation Red Wings," in which four members of SEAL Team 10 were tasked to capture or kill Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. But when their mission is compromised, the outnumbered SEALs must fight off the Taliban and navigate treacherous mountain terrain as they try to survive.
Berg, who wrote the adapted script for the $48 million pic, told THR in an exclusive interview in Cannes that he wanted to personally assure foreign distributors that Lone Survivor isn’t pro-American.
“I’ve never gotten a script that’s gotten such intense interest. People know I love to shoot action and that I’m not afraid of emotion,” Berg said. “It is a remarkable character study and I wanted the foreign buyers to understand that this was just as important to me as an action movie.”
Randall Emmett and George Furla are producing Lone Survivor via their Emmett/Furla Films. Berg, Wahlberg, Akiva Goldsman, Sarah Aubrey, Stephen Levinson and Barry Spikings also are producing. Kerry Foster, Remington Chase and Stepan Martirosyan are executive producing.
Berg, who is set to start shooting Sept. 15 in New Mexico, isn't worried about two other SEALs films in the pipeline, both of which concern the hunt for Osama bin Laden. His film won't come out until 2013, while Kathryn Bigelow's untitled film will be released by Sony on Dec. 19.
As the Cannes film market got underway on May 17, Univerasl announced a multi-territory deal for Bigelow's film, while the Weinstein Co. announced it was close to signing a deal for domestic rights to Code Name Geronimo, directed by John Stockwell and also concerning the hunt for bin Laden.That film could be released this fall.
Lone Survivor marks the third collaboration between Foresight and Emmett/Furla Films following 2 Guns, starring Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, and Albert Hughes' Motor City, starring Gerard Butler. Foresight will launch Motor City at Cannes as well.
2 Guns was the biggest title at the European Film Market in February, with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions snapping up distribution rights to most of the world for north of $55 million.