Icon Film Distribution Returns to U.K. Buying Arena

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Don Cheadle

The company, invigorated after being bought by Jerome Booth's private investment group New Sparta, pre-buys Don Cheadle's Miles Davis biopic "Kill The Trumpet Player" for its slate.

LONDON – The newly re-birthed Icon Film Distribution, returning to the U.K. arena in 2014 and buoyed by backing from Jerome Booth's private investment group New Sparta, has been snapping up movies for its first theatrical release slate under its new incarnation, led by Don Cheadle's directorial debut, Kill The Trumpet Player, about jazz legend Miles Davis.

Directed by and starring Cheadle as Davis, Ewan McGregor (The Impossible) and Zoe Saldana (Star Trek into Darkness) also star in the project, which is currently in preproduction.

The film tells the story of a few dangerous days in the life of Davis as he bursts out of his silent period and conspires with a Rolling Stone magazine writer to steal back his music.

The movie, written by Cheadle and Steven Baigelman (Feeling Minnesota), is being touted to buyers at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin by IM Global.

Icon, a familiar name on the U.K. scene, marks its return to business after New Sparta bought the distributor from Icon U.K. Group in September 2013.

Icon Film Distribution has also inked a deal to bring British audiences Next Goal Wins, a documentary directed by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison and produced by Kristian Brodie of Agile Films.

The film tracks the real-life story of the American Samoa soccer team, an international laughingstock that hadn't won a single game in 10 years. Following a 31-0 defeat to Australia, fiery maverick Dutch coach Thomas Rongen flies in to coach the team for their 2014 World Cup tournament qualifying campaign.

The movie is being sold internationally by K5 International.

Also scheduled to hit U.K. theaters via Icon will be The Guest, a genre-bending thriller from director Adam Wingard, writer Simon Barrett and producers Keith Calder and Jessica Wu, the team behind the acclaimed indie You’re Next, V/H/S and V/H/S 2.

Featuring British rising star Dan Stevens (TV's Downton Abbey), the film received its world premiere in the midnight program at this year’s Sundance, and also stars Maika Monroe (The Bling Ring), Brendan Meyer (Mr Young -- TV series) and Sheila Kelley (Matchstick Men).

Stevens plays a soldier who returns home to visit a fallen comrade’s family, but the perfect houseguest is not what he seems, as a mysterious and sinister chain of events unfold.

The Guest is being presented internationally by Hanway.

Icon also secured Laggies, from writer/director Lynn Shelton (Your Sister’s Sister), which stars Keira Knightley (Atonement) in her first comedy role alongside Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2), Sam Rockwell (The Way, Way Back) and Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim vs the World).

It details the story of a 28-year-old in permanent adolescence who clings to her job as a sign flipper for her father’s accounting company while her high school friends get married and advance their careers. When her high school boyfriend proposes unexpectedly, Megan panics and forgoes attending a professional-development retreat to hide, at least temporarily, at the home of her new 16-year-old friend, Annika, and her attractive, single dad.

Laggies is being presented internationally by The Solution at the EFM.

The company has also bought Texas pulp fiction Cold In July, based on the cult novel of the same name. It is co-written and directed by Jim Mickle and stars Michael C. Hall (Kill Your Darlings), Sam Shepard (August: Osage County) and Don Johnson (Django Unchained), and is being touted internationally by Memento Films International.

The Last Five Years, a musical based on the Off-Broadway hit by Tony Award-winning playwright Jason Robert Brown, and directed by Richard LaGravenese, and Australian horror film The Babadook, the directorial debut of writer-director Jennifer Kent, round out Icon's spending spree for the U.K.

Icon Film Distribution CEO Ian Dawson said: "We are delighted to be able to bring seven quality, highly distinctive and original films to the U.K. and Ireland as we continue to build Icon Film Distribution, its team and its lineup."