Weinstein nabs U.S. rights to 'Sarah's Key'

Studio to release French and English-language film in 2011

The Weinstein Co. has swooped in and scooped up all U.S. rights to Gilles Paquet-Brenner's "Sarah's Key," starring Kristin Scott Thomas.

The company had been tracking the film since Harvey Weinstein saw a promo reel in Cannes in May, and the actual deal was concluded last week.

But that still allowed TWC to stake a claim for the first buy actually announced at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Based on Tatiana de Rosnay's bestselling novel "Elle s'appelait Sarah," which was adapted by Paquet-Brenner and Serge Joncour, the film follows Scott Thomas, an American living in Paris, as she researches the arrest of Jewish families in Paris in 1942. In the process -- as the French and English-language movie unfolds in parallel story lines -- she discovers she shares a connection with a 10-year-old girl, played by Melusine Mayance, who was caught up in the arrests.

"Harvey really sparked to the material -- he was a big fan of the book and the script, and when we finally saw it, we felt it was a very powerful movie that can touch a chord," TWC acquisitions exec Peter Lawson said.

TWC's Lawson and Michal Steinberg negotiated the deal with Kinology's Gregoire Melin.

The film doesn't play the fest until Thursday, when it will be unveiled at a Roy Thomson Hall gala. Currently, TWC plans to release it in the first quarter of 2011, so it won't figure in the upcoming awards season unless TWC decides, after gauging the fest-goers' reactions, to move its release forward.

Stephane Marsil produced the film, a co-production of Studio 37 and France 2 Cinema, which opens in France next month via UGC Entertainment. Its U.S. release will probably come in 2011.

It's also scheduled to serve as the closing night film at the 58th San Sebastian International Film Festival.