New ‘Goal’ keeper

Disney scores U.S. rights for soccer pic

The Walt Disney Co. has picked up Danny Cannon’s soccer movie “Goal!” for release in North America.

Pic, currently in post, is the first part of a mooted $100 million trilogy about the turbulent rise of a young Latino soccer star, played by Kuno Becker.

Disney’s overseas arm Buena Vista Intl. is already set to distribute the movie around the world (except in Australia, Germany and Japan), with the premiere set for mid-September in Blighty.

The U.S. release date has not yet been fixed, but is expected to follow early in 2006.

By that time, Cannon is scheduled to have finished shooting the second movie, which is due to start principal photography this October in Spain.

In the first installment, the hero travels from his home in Los Angeles to play for English team Newcastle United. In the second, he gets transferred to the giant Spanish club Real Madrid, perhaps the most famous and successful team in the world.

In the last film, slated to shoot next summer, he will play for his national team (the identity of which is yet to be revealed) in the 2006 World Cup finals, which take place in Germany.

Hispanic outfit Arenas Entertainment was originally reported to be releasing the trilogy in the States, but no deal was concluded.

Producer Mike Jefferies has changed track a number of times to get this ambitious project going. He started shooting a version with Michael Winterbottom before deciding to shut down the production last May, restarting from scratch with Cannon in January.

He was also partnered last year with Icon Entertainment, but subsequently switched his distribution to BVI.

One constant, however, has been his deal with marketing partners and major soccer sponsors such as Adidas, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

Adidas, which supplies kit to both Newcastle and Real Madrid, is widely believed to have played a significant part in financing the movie, although Jefferies has always refused to disclose the details of the deal.

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