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MGM flies with world rights to ‘Scotsman’

Studio nabs biopic for Dec. 29 release

MGM has acquired worldwide rights, excluding a handful of European territories, to Douglas Mackinnon’s debut movie, “The Flying Scotsman,” a biopic of Scottish cycling champion Graham Obree.

Pic stars Johnny Lee Miller as Obree, a talented amateur who battled mental illness and the cycling authorities to break world records and win the world championship, using a bike he built himself from washing machine parts.

London-based ContentFilm Intl. sold the low-budget movie to MGM for all outstanding territories at the American Film Market, which wrapped Nov. 8.

Pic, which world preemed on the opening night of the Edinburgh Film Festival in August, previously has been sold to Italy, Scandinavia, Portugal and a few other minor territories.

MGM will give it a niche theatrical release Dec. 29 in North America but will distribute it straight to TV in the international market.

The production of “The Flying Scotsman” was notoriously troubled, with the producers never managing to close the financing and the production company ending up in administration (the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11).

Pic was bailed out by its pre-production financier, Freewheel, but many debts were left unpaid. In order to make ends meet, helmer Mackinnon had to take a day job directing a TV series while he finished post-production on “The Flying Scotsman” at night.

The distribution deal with MGM should allow some, if not all the debts to be settled.

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