U.S. play planned for next year

Overseas Filmgroup has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Andrew Dominik’s ultraviolent “Chopper” from Beyond Films. Overseas plans to handle the pic next year through domestic distribution division First Look Releasing.

Pic is based on the true story of infamous Australian criminal and cult hero Mark “Chopper” Read, who lied, murdered, kidnapped and chopped off his own ears in an effort to become a legendary crime figure. Only when he wrote a bestselling tome about his adventures (on which Dominik based the screenplay) did he realize his ambition.

Film co-stars celebrated Australian standup comedian Eric Bana with Simon Lyndon and Frank Colosimo.

Buyers have been buzzing about the talents of debuting helmer Dominik since Beyond premiered the pic at the Cannes Film Market this spring. However, the title’s U.S. distribution future seemed uncertain thanks to the film’s ratings-unfriendly content.

Overseas co-chairman Robbie Little said he will likely release the pic unrated if it does not qualify for an R rating, but would create an R-rated version as part of the video release.

First Look plans to release the title in the first quarter of 2001. Beyond has also sold the title to Blackwatch Releasing in Canada and Marsfilm in France.

“Andrew has made a debut that’s brilliant and original about a flawed and complex character in a fascinating way,” said First Look president M.J. Peckos.

Added Beyond VP, intl. sales, Richard Guardian, “The film playing with an audience really worked for us in Toronto, but Overseas (understood) the film very early. They were big believers, and they will give the film the very careful handling and marketing it will need in the U.S.”

Produced through Pariah Films, Michele Bennett produced “Chopper,” with Martin Fabinyi, Al Clark and Michael Gudinski serving as exec producers.

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