Schlessel and Berney's company acquires 'Drive'

Revving up quickly, FilmDistrict has added Ryan Gosling-Carey Mulligan actioner “Drive” to its slate only days after announcing it is teaming with TriStar Pictures for the release of Bethany Hamilton biopic “Soul Surfer.”

Peter Schlessel and Bob Berney’s new company closed a deal Wednesday for North American rights to “Drive,” currently shooting in Los Angeles.

FilmDistrict will market and distribute the pic and is eyeing a fall 2011 release.

“Soul Surfer,” which will target families and faith-based auds, opens nationwide on April 15.

Both projects speak to FilmDistrict’s goal of turning out titles with wide commercial appeal.

Schlessel is known for his business acumen and eye for movies, including “District 9,” which he acquired when heading up Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions. He also spearheaded Sony Worldwide’s

acquisition of “Soul Surfer” earlier this year.

Berney is equally respected for his marketing expertise, having released “The Passion of the Christ” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, “Drive” is a joint production of OddLot Entertainment and Bold Films, with Marc Platt producing.

Pic, based on the James Sallis novel, is about a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver in Los Angeles’ criminal underworld. Having fallen in love with a beautiful neighbor (Mulligan), he agrees to help her ex-con husband and becomes embroiled in a heist gone terribly wrong.

Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Ron Perlman and Christina Hendricks also star. Hossein Amini penned the adapted script.

“The strength of Amini’s riveting script and Refn’s exceptional directorial skills have attracted an amazing cast,” Schlessel said.

Deal was negotiated by Schlessel and WME’s Graham Taylor.

Brian O’Shea’s Affinity Intl. is repping foreign rights. Domestic deal with FilmDistrict will come in handy for O’Shea as he shops the project at the American Film Market.

Producers are Platt, Gigi Pritzker, Michel Litvak, Adam Siegel and John Palermo. David Lancaster, Gary Michael Walters, Bill Lischak and Linda McDonough exec produce.

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