Cannes 2012: Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon's West Memphis Three Pic Gets Financing (Exclusive)

Reese Witherspoon Colin Firth Split - H 2012
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Reese Witherspoon Colin Firth Split - H 2012

Worldview Entertainment will finance and produce Atom Egoyan's high-profile project; the filmmaker is set to begin shooting in June.

CANNES -- Devil's Knot, Atom Egoyan's West Memphis Three biopic starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, is moving full speed ahead.

New York-based motion picture production and investment company Worldview Entertainment will finance and produce the project, which The Weinstein Co. is debuting to foreign buyers at the Marche du Film this week in Cannes. CAA and WME are handling domestic rights.

Devil's Knot is based on the 2002 best-seller by investigative journalist Mara Leveritt about the savage murders of three 8-year-old boys and the conviction of three teenagers accused of killing them as part of a satanic ritual. In August 2011, the defendants were released due to lack of evidence after spending 18 years in prison.

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Actual defendants Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin are executive producing Devil's Knot with Worldview's Molly Conners, Sarah Johnson Redlich, Maria Cestone and Hoyt David Morgan. Producers are Elizabeth Fowler, Clark Peterson, Richard Saperstein and Worldview CEO Christopher Woodrow.

The case of the West Memphis Three already has spawned a handful of documentaries, including West of Memphis, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. That film was directed by Amy J. Berg and produced by Peter Jackson and Damien Echols, the third defendant.

Paul Harris Boardman -- also a producer on the film -- and Scott Derrickson penned the adapted script for Devil's Knot.

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Egoyan is scheduled to being principal photography in Georgia in June.

"Worldview is excited to involved with such an important and relevant project," Woodrow said. "We believe this story needs to be told onscreen, and we couldn't ask for a higher caliber of talent to do so."

Worldview is in production on Guillaume Canet's crime thriller Blood Ties, starring Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis and James Caan, and is in postproduction on James Gray's untitled epic period drama starring Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner. The company's upcoming slate also includes Eran Creevy's British crime thriller Welcome to the Punch, starring James McAvoy, Mark Strong and Andrea Riseborough.

Worldview was founded in 2007 and is represented by CAA.