Essential Entertainment intros action pic at AFM

Aaron Eckhart has signed up to star in CIA action pic “The Expatriate,” which is being unveiled to buyers at AFM.

Pic is executive produced by Essential Entertainment, which is also handling international sales on the title.

Eckhart will play a former CIA agent who hopes to make a fresh start with his estranged 15-year-old daughter.

He moves to Belgium to work as a security expert and one day discovers that his colleagues have mysteriously vanished and a trained operative is intent on killing both him and his daughter.

Philipp Stolzl (“North Face” ) will helm the pic, which is produced by Informant Media’s Judy Cairo (“Crazy Heart”), Michael A. Simpson (“Crazy Heart”) and Howard Meltzer plus Harry Winer of Smash Media.

Story is based on an original screenplay by A.E. Amel and begins lensing in the first quarter of 2011 in Belgium and Montreal.

Pic was brought into Essential by VP of acquisitions and development Bree Herzog and CFO/COO Randy Hermann. The two worked in conjunction with Informant Media to structure the financing, which is partly funding the pic.

Essential Entertainment is currently handling international distribution rights to “Barney’s Version,” “Whole Lotta Sole” and “Red Dog.”

Eckhart is repped by CAA and law firm Hirsch, Wallerstein, Hayum, Matlof & Fishman.

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