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With its $50 million budget, Hostiles was the most expensive movie at the Toronto film festival market, a big factor in the violent drama’s failure to sell by TIFF’s Sept. 17 close. But Scott Cooper’s Western also was one of the best reviewed, which is why, with awards season glory in mind, Byron Allen has beaten out such suitors as Fox Searchlight, Annapurna and Netflix to nab it for his Entertainment Studios.
The courtship began at the festival, followed by a Sept. 22 screening for Allen at CAA, which negotiated the deal with WME. The aggressive upstart will give Hostiles an Oscar-qualifying release in December, followed by an expanded rollout in January.
Set in 1892, Hostiles stars Christian Bale as an Army captain who reluctantly escorts a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back home to tribal lands. Making the perilous journey from New Mexico to Montana, the former rivals encounter a widow (Rosamund Pike) whose family was murdered on the plains. Together, they must overcome the punishing landscape, hostile Comanche and vicious outliers encountered along the way.
Cooper, who previously directed Bale in 2013’s Out of the Furnace, rewrote the Hostiles script first penned by the late Donald Stewart (who won an Oscar for co-writing 1982’s Missing) and produced the film along with Ken Kao and Oscar-winning Birdman producer John Lesher.
Hostiles marks the third acquisition for Entertainment Studios out of the Toronto market. The 47 Meters Down distributor also nabbed the Jason Clarke starrer Chappaquiddick, which will get an Oscar-qualifying release in December, as well as Keanu Reeves-led sci-fi pic Replicas.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.