Cannes: Tommy Lee Jones' 'The Homesman' Goes to Saban Films in U.S.

Courtesy of Festival de Cannes

UPDATED: The deal for North American rights marks the first major acquisition by Haim Saban's new distribution company; Jones stars opposite Hilary Swank in the Western.

CANNES -- Looking ahead to awards season, the newly launched Saban Films has snapped up North American rights to Tommy Lee Jones' The Homesman, which had its world premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on May 18.

Producer Brian Kennedy and CAA brokered the deal, which was upwards of $3 million, according to insiders. Several other suitors circled the film, including Sony Pictures Classics. A key element was a commitment to mount an awards campaign.

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Directed by and starring Jones -- who also wrote the screenplay with Kieran Fitzgerald and Wesley A. Oliver -- the Nebraska-set Western, produced for less than $20 million, is based on Glendon Swarthout's novel of the same name and concerns a rascally claim jumper (Jones) who teams up with a spinster woman (Hilary Swank) to take a wagon carrying three women driven mad by life on the prairies back East.

The cast also includes Hailee SteinfeldTim Blake Nelson, James Spader, John Lithgow and Meryl Streep.

Haim Saban's new distribution company is planning a 2014 theatrical release for Homesman, a Jones and Michael Fitzgerald production. Saban Films is headed by Bill Bromiley, who worked with Jones and Fitzgerald on In the Electric Mist.

"We are honored to have such a prestigious and beautifully crafted film as the first project to launch Saban Films," Saban said in a statement.

Added Jones: "I am delighted that Saban Films has chosen The Homesman to begin their venture into film release. Our company has full confidence in Saban Films, and I sincerely hope we will serve them well."

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Homesman is Jones' second directorial feature film. His first feature, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, had its world premiere at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, where it earned Jones the best actor prize and Guillermo Arriaga best screenplay honors.

Peter Brant produced Homesman alongside Kennedy and Luc Besson, with Deborah Dobson Bach, G. Hughes Abell and Richard Romero serving as executive producers alongside Jones and Fitzgerald. Besson's EuropaCorp. is representing international rights and will handle distribution in France.

"We are really looking forward to working with Michael and Tommy once again, and developing a creative and dynamic release campaign to bring this extraordinary movie to US and Canadian audiences," Bromiley said.