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In one of the first domestic deals ahead of this year’s Berlin European Film Market, Bleecker Street has picked up North American rights to The Return, an historical epic based on Homer’s ancient classic The Odyssey and starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche.
Uberto Pasolini, director of Nowhere Special and producer of The Full Monty, will direct the feature from a script he co-wrote with Edward Bond (Blow-Up, Walkabout) and John Collee (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World).
After 20 years away, King Odysseus (Fiennes) washes up on the shores of Ithaca, haggard and unrecognizable. Much has changed in his kingdom since he left to fight in the Trojan war. His beloved wife Penelope (Binoche) is now a prisoner in her own home, hounded by her many ambitious suitors to choose a new husband, a new king. Their son Telemachus, who has grown up fatherless, is facing death at the hands of the suitors who see him as an obstacle in their relentless pursuit of Penelope and the kingdom. Charlie Plummer (Lean on Pete) will play Telemachus.
The Return re-unites Fiennes and Binoche more than a quarter century after they starred together in Oscar winner The English Patient. The Return is set to begin production in Greece this spring in the regions of Corfu and the Peloponnese, before continuing in Italy.
Bleecker Street is planning a 2024 theatrical release for the movie.
HanWay Films kicked off pre-sales for The Return in Cannes last year and announced the Bleecker Street deal on the eve of Berlin’s EFM, which kicks off Thursday, Feb. 16. The film has already pre-sold to multiple international territories.
The Return is being set up as an Italy-Greece-U.K.-France co-production, with Pasolini and James Clayton producing for Red Wave Films, Roberto Sessa for Picomedia with Rai Cinema, Giorgos Karnavas and Konstantinos Kontovravkis producing for Heretic and Stéphane Moatti, Romain Le Grand, Vivien Aslanian and Marco Pacchioni for Kabo Films and Marvelous Production. Andrew Karpen and Kent Sanderson will executive produce for Bleecker Street.
The deal was negotiated by Sanderson and Avy Eschenasy of Bleecker Street with HanWay.
Bleecker Street’s 2023 slate includes Guy Nattiv’s Yom Kippur War drama Golda, starring Helen Mirren as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, which will have its world premiere in Berlin on Monday, Feb. 20; Frances O’Connnor’s Emily, starring Emma Mackey, which debuted in Toronto last year; and the Catherine Hardwicke-directed action comedy Mafia Mamma starring Toni Collette and Monica Belucci.
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