Matthew McConaughey AIDS Drama Acquired by Focus Features

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Matthew McConaughey

Jean-Marc Vallee is directing the true-life tale "Dallas Buyers Club," which likely will be positioned as an Oscars contender

Focus Features has picked up Dallas Buyers Club, the Matthew McConaughey inspirational AIDS drama directed by Jean-Marc Vallee.

Focus aims to release the movie in the second half of the year, meaning an awards campaign likely is in the offing. The company also has picked up rights to Latin America. CAA brokered the deal.

Inspired by real events that took place during the 1980s, the story centers on Ron Woodroof (McConaughey), a Texas electrician diagnosed with AIDS and given six months to live who began smuggling alternative drugs into the U.S. to help himself and other AIDS patients. He added years to his life but rushed headfirst into a collision course with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which was bent on keeping the drugs out of the country.

McConaughey lost weight for the part, which indicates how seriously he took the role. Rocker-turned-actor Jared Leto has a flamboyant part of a cross dresser with HIV. Jennifer Garner also stars in the movie.

Dallas Buyers is produced by Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter. Executive producing are Truth Entertainment's Tony Notargiacomo and Joe Newcomb plus Nicolas Chartier, Cassian Elwes, Logan Lev, Nathan Ross and Holly Wiersma.

Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack wrote the script.

"Ron Woodroof¹s story is one of an imperfect man and his fight for survival during a confused and desperate time. We all believe that this film had to finally be made, and we are all grateful and privileged to be part of this project," said Vallee in a statement.

Focus' pickup of Dallas Buyers brings the project full circle in a manner. The movie was set up for years at Universal, which tried to mount the drama in several incarnations, including one that had Brad Pitt starring and Marc Forster directing.