Cannes: Dan Rather Scandal Movie Deal Sealed Aboard Yacht With Brett Ratner

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Dan Rather

It took five days of talks between Ratner and Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker aboard James Packer's 289-foot yacht to come to terms on a deal for 'Truth.'

This story first appeared in the May 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

It was a deal struck over vegemite. While dining on that Australian paste (spread over toast) aboard James Packer’s yacht May 17, Brett Ratner and Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker closed a $6 million pact for U.S. rights to one of the splashiest films available in Cannes: director James Vanderbilt’s Truth, about CBS News anchor Dan Rather’s resignation and the events leading to it. Ratner and Barker toasted with Foster’s lager (for Barker) and water (for Ratner) when they reached an agreement on the Echo Lake and RatPac Entertainment project, which stars Robert Redford as the newsman and Cate Blanchett as producer Mary Mapes (Mythology Entertainment produced). "We had a much, much bigger offer from another company, but we took the Sony deal," says Ratner, who also is working with the specialty label on the upcoming I Saw the Light. "Cate and Robert both vocalized to us that they wanted to be in business with Michael and [co-president] Tom Bernard. And Michael was very persistent."

The SPC pair called Ratner weeks ago for a pre-Cannes peek, and Ratner showed them the film in the lead-up to the festival. SPC immediately came back with an offer, but it took five days of talks between Barker and Ratner aboard Packer’s "boat," as Ratner calls it (the Arctic P is, in fact, a 289-foot yacht), before they came to terms. Still, Truth wasn’t the biggest deal of Cannes at press time. That distinction went to Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, which CAA sold to Universal/Focus Features for about $20 million for worldwide rights. CAA was the busiest agency on the Croisette, selling for $4 million apiece U.S. rights to the Miles Teller boxing pic Bleed for This (to Open Road) and the Colin Firth starrer Genius (to Lionsgate, which also teamed with Roadside to pick up the Matthew McConaughey starrer Sea of Trees).

Lionsgate, Roadside and Saban Films came together for the CAA-repped Middle East drama A Hologram for the King, starring Tom Hanks, while eOne took North American rights to mob movie The Wannabe, with Patricia Arquette. The Weinstein Co. nabbed the boxing tale Hands of Stone and the Elle Fanning transgender drama Three Generations. On a smaller scale, Alchemy paid $500,000 for North American rights to Gaspar Noe’s buzzy 3D sexfueled Love — a film that might feature more skin than one would find aboard Packer’s yacht.