'Wettest County' Storms Cannes (Cannes 2011)

10:05 AM PST 05/16/2011 by Pamela McClintock

John Hillcoat's prohibition era drama has sealed a domestic distribution deal and secured a number of major territory deals.

CANNES -- John Hillcoat’s prohibition era drama The Wettest County in the World — starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy — has wowed the world.

Despite being darkly violent, Wettest County tops the list of projects that most impressed at the Cannes Film Festival, and appears bound for an awards run. Footage of Wettest County was first shown to domestic and foreign buyers last Thursday, sparking off heated action.

By Monday, the movie had sealed a domestic distribution deal with the Weinstein Co., as well as securing a number of major territory deals engineered by Glen Basner’s FilmNation.

It’s been a great Cannes for Basner, whose slate also includes Looper, The Skin I Live In, Take Shelter, The Raven and an untitled Terence Malick project. “It’s been an important week for us. This is a defining market,” Basner said.

Basner has sold Wettest County to Metropolitan in France, Imagen in Latin America, Svensk in Scandanavia, West in Russia, Dreamscape in Korea and Wild Bunch in Italy and Germany.

Deals were previously in place with for territories including the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand.

Wettest County, also starring Gary Oldman and Mia Wasikowska, is based on the book by Matt Bondurant, and tells the story of three brothers who run a massive bootlegging operation in southern Virginia, and extract revenge when their illegal business comes under threat.

On Thursday, the Weinstein Co. finalized its deal for U.S. rights to Wettest County, beating out Relativity Media and CBS Films. Insiders say TWC paid upwards of $5 million for the movie and agreed to an awards campaign. Also, Wettest County will be a nationwide release.

CAA and Cassian Elwes repped U.S. rights.

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