Berlin: Download THR's Day 2 Daily
The fest's second daily issue includes a look at a new deal STXfilms is circling, the announcement of the sale of Open Road and a chat with Chiwetel Ejiofor.
The Hollywood Reporter has released its second Berlin International Film Festival daily issue, which features a look at Open Road's sale to Raven Capital Management, the news that STXfilms is closing in on U.S. distribution rights to King of the Jungle, and a conversation with actor-turned-director Chiwetel Ejiofor.
King of the Jungle
STXfilms is in final negotiations to take U.S. distribution rights to King of the Jungle, a comedy based on the "wild true story" of rogue tech magnate — and 2020 U.S. presidential candidate — John McAfee, with Seth Rogen and Michael Keaton in talks to star. The film — which IMR first introduced to buyers at the AFM in late 2018 and will continue foreign sales at the European Film Market in Berlin — is being directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris) from a script by Golden Globe and Emmy winners Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. STX has committed to a wide U.S. theatrical release. More on the film, and the deal, here.
An $87.5 Million Deal
Open Road, the U.S. distributor that was part of Donald Tang's ambitious plans to build a global mini-studio — plans that collapsed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy last fall — has been sold. Private equity group Raven Capital Management has closed its deal to acquire Open Road's assets — including rights to 45 released film titles — for $87.5 million, the company announced Thursday. Raven Capital will take over rights to all finished films in the Open Road library, with the exception of the box office flop A.X.L.. The lineup includes movies such as Nightcrawler, Chef, The Grey, The Nut Job and Oscar-winner Spotlight. THR takes a look at the sale.
"Its Triumphs and Failings Are You"
With more than 20 years of stage and screen experience — including a notable early role in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad in 1997 and an Oscar nomination for Steve McQueen’s 2013 drama 12 Years a Slave — Chiwetel Ejiofor has joined a growing number of high-profile actors flexing their creative muscles behind the camera. In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, the 41-year-old Brit marks his directorial debut with the story of William Kamkwamba, who rose to fame as a teenager in rural Malawi when, having been forced to drop out of school, he constructed a makeshift wind turbine, helping his family and community during the country’s worst famine in 50 years. The film, picked up by Netflix for worldwide distribution outside the U.K., is the biggest production shot in Malawi to date. Ejiofor adapted Kamkwamba’s memoir and cast newcomer Maxwell Simba in the lead role. Ahead of the film’s European premiere in Berlin, Ejiofor discussed shooting in the very same village where the story is set, not being able to hide behind another persona when in the director’s chair and being part of an annual Christmas cinema tradition.