Goldwyn acquires 'Mao's Last Dancer'

Beresford's biopic centers on Chinese dancer Li Cunxin

Updated March 30 11:39 pm Beijing time

SYDNEY -- Bruce Beresford's dance epic, "Mao’s Last Dancer," will get an August 6 release date in the U.S. after being acquired by indie distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films, the company announced Tuesday.

The true-life story of Chinese dancer Li Cunxin and his defection to the U.S. and subsequent life in Australia was directed by Beresford and produced by Jane Scott, from a screenplay by Jan Sardi. It stars Bruce Greenwood, Kyle MacLachlan, Joan Chen, Chi Cao and Amanda Schull.

It opened in Australia late last year, grossing AUS$15.4 million ($14 million) to become the 12th top-grossing Australian film of all time.

Sam Goldwyn Jr., chairman and CEO of Samuel Goldwyn Films said, “Mao’s Last Dancer” is a hauntingly beautiful film with universal appeal that I’ve been thinking about nonstop since Toronto.”

Jane Scott added: “I am delighted that American audiences will now have the chance to experience the [film's] incredible, emotional journey. Goldwyn’s belief and enthusiasm for 'Mao’s Last Dancer' is everything a producer could wish for.”

Peter Goldwyn, vice president of acquisitions for Samuel Goldwyn Films, negotiated the deal with Hengameh Panahi of Celluloid Dreams.

"Mao’s Last Dancer" was runner up to “Precious” for the Audience Award at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival and winner of the Audience Award at the 2009 Sao Paulo Film Festival in Brazil.

"Mao’s" U.S. pick-up follows Sony’s announcement last week that it had acquired Australian neo-western “Red Hill” for release there this year.