Overture takes domestic on 'Goats'

CANNES — Two George Clooney projects are making news at the Cannes film fest. Focus Features has set Clooney to star in “A Very Private Gentleman,” an adaptation of the Martin Booth novel to be directed by Anton Corbijn.

Rowan Joffe is scripting the pic, which shoots in Italy this fall.

Clooney will play an assassin who hides out in an idyllic Italian town before carrying out a final assignment. He resists his usual aversion to human interaction, and his friendships and romantic entanglements complicate his mission.

Clooney and Smokehouse partner Grant Heslov will join Anne Carrey as producer.

Separately, in the first major pickup of the festival, Overture has grabbed domestic rights to war comedy “Men Who Stare at Goats,” featuring Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges and helmed by Heslov.

McGregor stars as a journalist who stumbles upon an ex-member (Clooney) of a secret U.S. Army unit that used paranormal tactics.

Peter Straughan adapted a nonfiction book by Jon Ronson.

“Goats” shot in Puerto Rico and was produced by Smokehouse and the BBC, with financing partner Winchester Capital. CAA repped the domestic deal, which was said to be in the $4 million range. Mandate sold foreign rights.

Upcoming for Clooney is the Jason Reitman-directed “Up in the Air,” which Paramount releases at Christmas.

(Michael Fleming and Ali Jaafar contributed to this report.)

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