Cannes: 'The Gunman' With Sean Penn Sells in Various Territories

Sean Penn - P 2013
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UPDATE: StudioCanal has sold the film in China, Russia and a slew of other countries, and U.S. majors are circling.

CANNES - Action movie The Gunman, starring Sean Penn, has a shot at a global sellout here at the Cannes film market as a slew of territory deals have already been signed and U.S. majors are circling the film. 

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Director Pierre Morel (Taken) was in town earlier this week to drum up excitement for the film from France's Studiocanal, which is part of entertainment and telecom conglomerate Vivendi.

E-stars has acquired rights for China, MGN Paradise has struck a deal for Russia, and Mislabel has taken the film for Scandinavia. In addition, Impuls has bought rights for Switzerland, Swen got the movie in Latin America, Belga for Benelux and Rai for Italy. Deals are also in place for Poland, Turkey, India, Greece and the Middle East.

"When usually poker-faced buyers tell you you have the best project on the market, all that remains for us to do is to close the best deal with the strongest and most enthusiastic partners," evp for international distribution Harold Van Lier told The Hollywood Reporter. "It was a very sunny Cannes for us," he joked, referencing the monsoon-like rain that has been battering the seaside town most of the festival so far. 

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Studiocanal, which is fully financing the film, will release the film in the U.K., France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

The Gunman is Penn’s first foray into the action genre, and the studio says it has major franchise potential.  After Taken made an aging Liam Neeson an action draw, Morel is hoping to do the same with Penn.

The screenplay by Vantage Point director Peter Travis is an adaptation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s 1981 novel The Prone Gunman, which centers on an international contract killer who is betrayed by the organization he works for after he tries to retire from the business. He is forced to go on the run across Europe.

Shooting is set to begin in June with stops in several European locales. Joel Silver and Andrew Rona are producing the film.