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Already looking to next year’s awards season, The Weinstein Co. has acquired North American rights to Justin Chadwick’s biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography of the same name.
The movie, now in post-production, stars Idris Elba as the famed South African civil rights leader and Naomie Harris (Skyfall) as Mandela’s wife, Winnie.
TWC also snapped up rights to the film in Australia and New Zealand. Harvey and Bob Weinstein‘s company announced the deal in tandem with Distant Horizon’s Anant Singh, the film’s producer.
Singh began communicating with Mandela when Mandela was still imprisoned by South African authorities, and acquired rights to the autobiography upon its publication in 1996. William Nicholson (Les Miserables) wrote the adapted screenplay.
Mandela, shot in South Africa, started principal photography at the end of May 2012 in KwaZulu-Natal and went on to shoot for 16 weeks in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Mandela’s home province, the Eastern Cape.
The film also features South African stars Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva, Jamie Bartlett, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Deon Lotz and Terry Pheto.
“TWC is the best North American distributor for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and I am delighted to continue our association of over 20 years with Harvey, which began with Sarafina and Cry, The Beloved Country,” Singh said.
“Harvey’s passion for cinema and his track record of making enormous successes on films that have achieved critical and box office acclaim is world renowned. This is the perfect film for him with powerful performances, an epic scale and a true story of the world’s most respected leader and elder statesman,” he continued.
Harvey Weinstein added: “Anant Singh first gave the book to me in 1994, when the first edition came out. We have been talking about making this film since 1999. There have been a number of stop and goes, but sometimes things work out for a reason, and Anant Singh has done a masterful job in producing this epic story of our times. Through Anant and Bob De Niro, I met Nelson Mandela, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.”
The deal was negotiated in London by David Glasser and Michal Steinberg for TWC and Singh and Alan Grodin of Weintraub Tobin for Distant Horizon. Pathe has acquired the U.K. and French rights and is handling international sales.
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