Focus takes aim at ‘Kill’

Foreign sales to take place at EFM in Berlin

Focus Features has picked up worldwide distribution rights to Jeremy Renner’s journalism drama “Kill the Messenger,” with Michael Cuesta directing from Peter Landesman’s script.

Focus Intl. prexy Alison Thompson told Variety that foreign sales will be taking place at the European Film Market at Berlin, which opens Thursday. “We normally don’t sell at Berlin, but this project has so much heat that we’d be crazy not to,” she said.

Scott Stuber is producing. Renner and Don Handfield are also producing through their production banner the Combine.

CAA is putting together the financing for “Messenger.” Producers plan to begin production this summer.

Story is based on investigative journalist Gary Webb’s stories alleging the CIA’s involvement in the spread of crack cocaine in Los Angeles. Renner came onboard last week to star and produce.

Project was set up at Universal in 2008 with Stuber producing and Landesman adapting. Webb, a reporter at the San Jose Mercury News, committed suicide in 2004 after being the target of a smear campaign when he linked the CIA to a scheme to arm Contra rebels in Nicaragua and import cocaine into California.

Webb’s three-part series “Dark Alliance” was published in 1996 and implied that the CIA was a catalyst for the crack cocaine scourge in California.

CAA, which represents Renner and Stuber, co-represented “Messenger” domestic distribution rights with WME, which represents Cuesta. Renner is also represented by Untitled Entertainment.

Focus has not set a U.S. release date for “Kill.”

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