Meridian Picks Up Kate Mara's Iraq War Drama 'Megan Leavey' for China

'Megan Leavey'

The Beijing-based company plans to release the film, about an American Marine and her lifesaving bond with a bomb-sniffing combat dog, this fall.

Meridian Entertainment has scooped up China distribution rights to Iraq War drama Megan Leavey, starring Kate Mara.

Gabriela Cowperthwaite, best known for the documentary Blackfish, directed the real-life drama, which centers on the lifesaving bond between a young Marine corporal and her combat dog during the Iraq war.

Edie Falco also stars in the feature, along with Ramon Rodriguez, Bradley Whitford and Common.

Meridian picked up the rights from Sierra/Affinity and plans to release the film through its distribution arm, United Entertainment Partners, in the fourth quarter. The film was financed and produced by LD Entertainment. The deal was negotiated on behalf of Sierra /Affinity by Nicholas Sherry.

Dog-themed dramas have shown promise in China, where pet ownership is now trendy and on the rise after decades of being officially frowned upon by the ruling Communist Party as a bourgeois Western affectation.

Although it's a very different sort of canine drama than Megan Leavey, Universal's A Dog's Purpose earned $88 million in China earlier this year after its local release by Alibaba Pictures — considerably more than the $64 million it pulled in stateside (although the movie's domestic haul may have been hurt by a leaked video showing a dog being shoved into a water tank during production).

Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo and Tim Lovestedt wrote the screenplay for Megan Leavey, which was produced by Mickey Liddell, Pete Shilaimon and Jennifer Monroe.

Founded in 2013 by journalist and film industry veteran Jennifer Dong, Meridian is known for its investments in the documentary Casting JonBenet, which Netflix acquired at Sundance, and Jean-Stephane Sauvaire’s Muay Thai thriller A Prayer Before Dawn, which recently screened out of competition at the Cannes film festival.

In April, Meridian reached a multiyear, multipicture deal to co-finance all Blumhouse films made outside of its first-look deal with Universal Pictures. Their first joint venture is a modern retelling of the classic dog story Benji. The company also has a first-look pact and strategic partnership with James Schamus' Symbolic Exchange.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring this inspirational and heartwarming film to the mass Chinese audience," said Dong, chairwoman of Meridian Entertainment and UEP.

UEP has previously handled China distribution on imported English-language films such as Hacksaw Ridge, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and The Smurfs 2. Its Chinese distribution successes include local animation box-office champ Monkey King: Hero Is Back ($140 million) and Breakup Buddies ($170 million).  

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