Berlin 2013: Focus Boards Jeremy Renner's 'Kill the Messenger'

Jeremy Renner

Jeremy Renner, who stars in The Avengers as Hawkeye, poses on the red carpet. “He’s an amazing fighter — his fight work is wonderful: precise, heroic, and you seldom have to double him,” says director Joss Whedon of Renner. “But one day he just turned wrong and his whole body shut down. He could not do anything. He was in enormous pain, and we had to shut that sequence down and shoot it a couple of weeks later.”

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The company will release the drama about blacklisted journalist Gary Webb in the U.S., and its international arm will shop the project to foreign buyers in Berlin.

Focus Features has boarded Kill the Messenger, based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb, who committed suicide after being denounced for exposing the CIA's controversial involvement in helping Nicaragua's Contra rebels import cocaine into California during the 1980s.

Focus was a natural home for the film, since Kill the Messenger was set up at parent company Universal. Focus will distribute the movie domestically and sell it internationally during the European Film Market in Berlin, which gets under way this week in conjunction with the Berlin International Film Festival.

STORY: Jeremy Renner to Play Journalist Gary Webb in 'Kill the Messenger' 

Michael Cuesta will direct the thriller from a script by Peter Landesman. Renner, who will play Webb, and Don Handfield will produce via their production company The Combine alongside Scott Stuber.

CAA is arranging financing for Kill the Messenger and is partnering with WME in representing domestic rights.

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In a series of 1996 articles for the San Jose Mercury News, Webb detailed how the CIA had effectively allowed the Contras to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. and use the proceeds to fund their war against the Nicaraguan government in the 1980s. The Mercury News ultimately backed down from the story, ending Webb's career. He was found dead in 2004.

Kill the Messenger is set to begin production this summer.

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