Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz's 'Escobar' Closes Pre-Sales

Javier Bardem Penelope Cruz - H 2015
AP Images

Javier Bardem Penelope Cruz - H 2015

Directed by Fernando Leon de Aranoa, the drama is set to start shooting Oct. 24.

Producers of the Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz-starrer Escobar on Tuesday unveiled a bevy of pre-sales on the $20 million drama, directed by Fernando Leon de Aranoa.

Nu Image, which handles international sales on the drama set to start shooting Oct. 24, sold U.K. rights to Icon Film, said production house Escobar. Other key acquisitions include: Latin America (California Filmes), France (SND-M6 Groupe), Spain (Filmax), Australia/NZ (Becker Film Group), West Indies (VAA Film Distributors), Benelux (Dutch FilmWorks), Greece/Cyprus (Odeon), Italy (Notorious), Portugal (Nos Lusomundo), Scandinavia (Star Media Entertainment), India/Philippines (Parkit Films), Indonesia (Amero Mitra Film), Vietnam (Rain Film), Middle East (Eagle), Turkey (Tanweer), Eastern Europe (ProRom) and the CIS and Baltic States (Magnum).

The film, which producer Miguel Menendez de Zubillaga says is “not a biopic,” focuses on the drug lord Pablo Escobar’s romance with glamorous Colombian journalist Virginia Vallejo.

The Oscar-winning couple last starred together in Woody Allen’s 2008 Vicky Cristina Barcelona, for which Cruz won the best supporting actress Academy Award.

Miguel Menendez de Zubillaga -- who produced Marcelo Pineyro’s Kamchatka, Hatem Khraiche’s Tripulante 9 and Amanda Seyfried-starrer Lovelace — will produce the Spanish-Bulgarian co-production that teams Spain’s Escobar Films and Javier Bardem himself with Kalina Kottas’ B2Y.

“This is the kind of film every producer dreams of making,” Menendez de Zubillaga said, “an original story, with a talented director and a cast with spectacular charisma.”

Long seen as one Spain’s most talented writers and directors -- even before he directed Bardem in the critically acclaimed and multi-award-winning Mondays in the Sun in 2002 -- Leon de Aranoa returns to English-language directing after the 2015 Directors’ Fortnight entry A Perfect Day with Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins.

“It is a decisive step in Fernando’s career,” Mendendez de Zubillaga said. Leon de Aranoa wrote the screenplay based on Vallejo’s book Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar. The film will be shot entirely in Colombia.

Originally, the project was announced in Cannes 2015 by Luc Besson, who was to finance, co-produce and distribute the film. EuropaCorp is no longer involved.