Biopic to start production in April

In a move that makes the Oliver Stone-directed “Bush” a reality, QED has closed a deal to fully finance a drama that will begin production in April.

Josh Brolin is finalizing a deal to play President Bush.

The deal — made a week after Stone and producing partner Moritz Borman unveiled the top-secret script to buyers (Daily Variety, Jan. 21) — means “Bush” could be in theaters by November’s presidential elections, and certainly before Bush leaves the White House in January.

QED, the production/financing company started three years ago by Bill Block, Paul Hanson and Elliot Ferwerda, will sell offshore territories next week at the European Film Market in Berlin. QED Intl.’s Kim Fox will spearhead that effort. A domestic distribution deal is expected to be made shortly after that fest.

While Bush is a controversial figure abroad, QED’s Block said that didn’t mean the film won’t find receptive audiences offshore.

“Whether you love Bush or you hate him, he has changed the world forever,” Block told Daily Variety. “He’s a subject of fascination to the rest of the world, no matter how you feel about him, and Oliver has put together a very complete and complex characterization of his life. Josh Brolin has the range and depth to reveal this character’s amazing journey to the ultimate power seat.”

QED will finance a budget north of $25 million in partnership with Aramid, the U.K.-based hedge fund. Pic gives QED two plum titles, as the company is also financing “Peter Jackson’s District 9,” the sci-fi film that director Neill Blomkamp and producer Peter Jackson hatched after Universal and Fox unplugged their plan to team on “Halo.” That also starts production in the spring, and Sony will distribute.

Brolin, who is coming off “No Country for Old Men” and “American Gangster,” will start work on “Bush” after he wraps the Gus Van Sant-directed “Milk.” Stone is already casting other roles that include Laura Bush and former President George H.W. Bush. Stone and producers Borman and Jon Kilik are locking locations, using much of the crew that was ready to work for Stone on “Pinkville” until United Artists derailed the film.

Stone, who worked on the script with his “Wall Street” co-writer Stanley Weiser before the writers strike and returned to it after “Pinkville” fell apart, told Daily Variety last week he is aiming for a fair portrait of Bush, similar to “Nixon.” The film will cover Bush’s transformation from a substance-abusing underachiever through a conversion to Christianity. Stone said it will deal with Bush’s belief that God wanted him to be president, and the story leads up to the invasion of Iraq.

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