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Regal Entertainment said Friday it has booked a May 9 release for political thriller Persecuted, which explores politically timely topics like religious freedom, government surveillance and censorship.
A distribution deal for the film was still being negotiated, but the movie was getting buzz Friday because of a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington that included Fred Thompson, one of the movie’s stars.
Persecuted teams for the first time Thompson, the actor who was also a U.S. senator and Republican presidential candidate, with Gray Frederickson, the Oscar-winning producer of The Godfather Part II. Frederickson is producing Persecuted, while Thompson plays a priest.
Persecuted stars James Remar as a televangelist who is framed for murder after he refuses to support a popular wave of religious reform in the U.S. The film also stars Dean Stockwell, Raoul Trujillo and Bruce Davison.
Despite very little marketing thus far, the movie’s trailer was recently No. 1 on the iTunes “most popular” list, a feat insiders attribute to a robust Facebook page and the ripped-from-the headlines themes that the movie explores.
The trailer begins with real-life Fox News Channel personality Gretchen Carlson, who plays a news anchor in the film, informing the televangelist that, “There are those who claim that your ministry is intolerant.” The trailer ends with another character asking: “If you take away a man’s right to speak his mind in a country founded on that very principle, you don’t really have a country, now, do you?”
The independent movie, directed by Daniel Lusko, is from One Media, a limited partnership created by those who invested in the film. Lusko, who was also at CPAC with Thompson, called the film “a great political thriller” that is about “censoring religious speech.”
Thompson added that the movie’s theme of “the government trying to dictate what Christian ministers can say … is not so far-fetched today.”
“Current events have certainly caught up. I wrote the script five years ago,” Lusko told an audience at CPAC. “I just had a vision of this man running through the woods with his deeply held convictions standing up for what he believes, and this intrusive government trying to clamp down on his religious freedom.”
Lusko said he expects the film to open on 600 screens May 9, but Regal Entertainment, which owns exhibitors Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards, hasn’t committed to a screen count yet.
“Washington and Hollywood are two interesting towns,” Thompson told The Hollywood Reporter prior to his CPAC appearance. “This film brings these two worlds together. Throw in a bit of religion and you have a recipe for a great thriller. I can’t wait for America to watch this film. It’s perfect for our times.”
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