Cannes: Universal Lands Jessica Chastain-Led Female-Fronted Spy Film '355'

Courtesy of THR
From left: Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong'o and Fan Bingbing

The package, which was the buzziest of the market, also stars Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong'o.

In one of the biggest deals of the Cannes market, Universal Pictures has acquired U.S. rights to the female-fronted spy film 355.

A source close to the deal pegged the price tag at $20 million. The budget on the film is said to be $75 million-plus.

Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Fan Bingbing and Lupita Nyong'o will star in the James Bond-esque spy pic.

Heading into the market, the Simon Kinberg-helmed 355 was expected to cause the biggest stir given the star power of the quintet, each bringing in a fanbase from a disparate box-office territory, most importantly Fan, who is one of the biggest stars in China.

There is no script yet, but the plot is said to revolve around five spies from agencies around the world who form their own team, dubbed 355. Theresa Rebeck (Catwoman) is writing the screenplay.

The timing couldn't be better for the project, which dovetails with the larger cultural phenomenon of women demanding their equal place amid the #MeToo and Time's Up movements. Ironically, Cruz previously had been rumored to be taking a role as a so-called "Bond girl" in the next 007 outing, but instead she will topline what is hoped to be a franchise starter with 355.

Chastain, who has been one of the most vocal actresses on gender equity issues in Hollywood, is producing through her Freckle Films banner. Freckle's Kelly Carmichael and Kinberg also are producing.

CAA, which reps all five actresses as well as Kinberg, negotiated the deal and is repping the film for China. FilmNation is selling 355 in all other international territories.

Rebeck is handled by ICM Partners and Manage-Ment.

A version of this story appears in The Hollywood Reporter's May 13 daily issue from the Cannes Film Festival.