Lionsgate Lands 'Rapture' From Directors Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz

Antebellum - Publicity Still 1- H 2020
Matt Kennedy

As exhibitors eye summer reopenings, Lionsgate has also reset the helming duo's debut feature, 'Antebellum,' starring Janelle Monae, for an Aug. 21 theatrical release.

Lionsgate has inked a deal for the writer-director team of Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz's next film, Rapture, as the studio redates the duo's feature debut Antebellum for a worldwide theatrical release on Aug. 21.

"We are thrilled to join our industry and exhibitor partners as we begin to plan for a return to moviegoing," Lionsgate president of worldwide distribution David Spitz said Friday in a statement. Major exhibitors are eyeing a summer reopening for their U.S. locations amid the COVID-19 crisis as new Hollywood product is rolled out.

The first summer studio film currently on the books is Christopher Nolan's Tenet on July 17, followed by Mulan a week later on July 24.

Added Spitz, "With tentpole movies from major distributors, like Warner Bros.’ Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984, and Disney’s Mulan, all lined up for late summer, we believe that by Aug. 21, audiences will be eager for the distinctive, unique story and voice of these groundbreaking filmmakers’ debut, Antebellum."

Lionsgate said it beat out rival bidders to land Rapture, for which Bush and Renz have written a short story that will underpin their original screenplay. Rapture focuses on a family that is torn apart by warring beliefs and which must come together to unravel the mystery around the sudden vanishing of the global population — before it’s too late.

QC Entertainment’s (BlacKkKlansman, Get Out) Sean McKittrick and Raymond Mansfield, who, alongside Bush, Renz, Zev Foreman and Lezlie Wills, produced Antebellum, will reunite to produce Rapture. Bush, Renz and Maya Rodrigo will produce the film, while Foreman will executive produce alongside Ted Hamm.

Antebellum was initially to have been released April 24 by Lionsgate, but the studio pulled the pic from its release schedule as major cinema chains shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement on Rapture and the redating of Antebellum was made by Lionsgate Motion Picture Group president Nathan Kahane and president of production Erin Westerman.

"After the amazing experience of collaborating on that film (Antebellum), we’re excited to build a second film with these prolific and daring auteurs. Like with everything they do, Rapture will be beautiful, evocative and will pierce through the clutter, and we’re certain it will spark many important conversations. They are the kind of voices we need right now," Kahane said in a statement.

Bush and Renz are repped by WME and DISSIDENT. Dan Freedman oversaw the dealmaking for Lionsgate.