Cannes: STX Betting Big on Aaron Sorkin's 'Molly's Game'

Aaron Sorkin Jessica Chastain Idris Elbas Split - H 2016
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Sorkin's directorial debut, a Hollywood-set drama about high-stakes poker, stars Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba.

Aaron Sorkin's decision to travel to the Cannes Film Festival and personally pitch his vision for his upcoming feature directorial debut, the poker movie Molly's Game, is proving to be a winning hand.

Insiders say STX Entertainment is in exclusive talks to prebuy U.S. and China rights to the film for as much as $9 million. The pending deal comes less than 24 hours after Sorkin spoke with U.S. and foreign buyers who are prowling the Cannes Film Market looking for product, even at the script or preproduction stage.

Sorkin's pitch for the based-on-fact Molly's Game, previously set up at Sony, sparked immediate interest, according to several buyers.

Chastain will star as the film's title character, Molly Bloom, a skier who, after her Olympic dreams were dashed, headed to Los Angeles and became a cocktail waitress. She rose through the social circuit to became an organizer of underground poker games for the Hollywood elite, with players including Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. Her poker games came to an end when she was arrested by the FBI.

Elba will play Bloom's criminal-defense lawyer, who, according to the producers, “learns that there's much more to Molly than the tabloids lead us to believe.”

The Mark Gordon Co. is producing Molly's Game with Amy Pascal and her Pascal Pictures banner. EOne and The Mark Gordon Co. are financing the project, which Sierra Affinity, the global sales company, is introducing to foreign buyers at Cannes. WME Global and CAA are co-representing U.S. distribution rights.

EOne will distribute the film in Canada, the U.K., Australia/New Zealand, Benelux and Spain.