Company makes first acquisition since sale

Newmarket Films has acquired U.S. rights to Alejandro Amenabar’s “Agora” and will release historical epic during the first half of next year.

It’s the first acquisition for Newmarket — best known for handling “The Passion of the Christ” — since the company was bought earlier this month by Exclusive Media Group.

“Agora,” which had its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, has become a hit in Spain with $30 million after a month. It grossed $7.9 million in its first three days and has stayed in first place in the Spanish box office for four weeks.

The pic, directed by Amenabar (“The Sea Inside”) from a script he co-wrote with Mateo Gil, stars Rachel Weisz, Oscar Isaac and Max Minghella. “Agora” was produced by MOD Prods., Himenoptero and Telecinco Cinema, with the participation of Canal Plus Spain.

Set in ancient Egypt under Roman rule, English-language “Agora” follows a female astronomer who leads a group of disciples fighting to save the wisdom of the ancient world, as violent religious upheaval spills into the streets of Alexandria.

Newmarket, which also handled “Memento,” “Whale Rider,” and “Downfall,” recently acquired Jon Amiel’s “Creation,” starring Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany and focuses on Charles Darwin’s struggle to reconcile his love for his religious wife with his own growing belief in evolution. Newmarket will release “Creation” in January.

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