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Open Road acquires ‘Killer Elite’

Statham, Owen, DeNiro star in action thriller

Open Road Films has acquired all U.S. distribution rights to Omnilab Media’s film “Killer Elite,” an action thriller starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro and directed by Gary McKendry.

It’s the first release for Open Road, which plans to open “Killer Elite” in the fall. Open Road was founded earlier this year by AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment Group with Tom Ortenberg coming on board two months ago as CEO.

Open Road made the announcement Wednesday at Cannes. “Killer Elite” will be released nationwide in over 2000 theaters, supported by over $25 million in P&A.

Open Road’s aiming at bringing mid-budget pics to the domestic market as the six major Hollywood studios ratchet back on such vehicles in favor of tentpoles and franchises. Ortenberg told Variety he’d been pursuing “Killer Elite” since Open Road began operations.

Trailers will begin showing in the early summer. The project will be overseen at Open Road Films by Ortenberg and newly minted president of marketing, Jason Cassidy.

Financed by Omnilab Media, the film was produced by Michael Boughen through Omnilab’s Australian production arm, Ambience Entertainment alongside Sigurjon Sighvatsson, Steve Chasman and Tony Winley.

“Killer Elite” is an action adventure spy film following Statham’s character as one of the world’s most skilled special-ops agents. Lured out of self-imposed exile to execute a near-impossible feat of retribution and personal salvation, he reassembles his old team of operatives to help rescue his former mentor, portrayed by DeNiro, and to penetrate the British Special Air Service — facing off against a covert group of ex-SAS soldiers known as “The Feather Men,” led by Owen’s character.

The film takes place in Australia, Paris, Wales, London, Dubai and Oman. Inspired by true events, story is based on Ranulph Fiennes’ novel “The Feather Men.”

The acquisition nearly completes all worldwide sales for the title following the initial pre-sales closed by the film’s sales agent, Inferno Entertainment.

“‘Killer Elite’ is a fantastic, adrenaline-rush movie with a stellar cast,” Ortenberg said.

The former Lionsgate exec said he expects Open Road to launch another title before the end of the year and six to eight films during 2012.

The deal was negotiated on behalf of Open Road by Ortenberg, general counsel and executive VP of operations and business affairs Elliott Kleinberg and senior VP of Acquistions Ben Cotner, and by Executive Producers Matthew Street and Peter D. Graves on behalf of Omnilab Media with Greenberg/Traurig lawyers Alan Schwartz and Lisa Nitti.

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