The Weinstein Co. is already stocking up for awards season 2014, acquiring domestic distrib rights to the Nelson Mandela biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” starring Idris Elba.
“I am extremely passionate about ‘Long Walk to Freedom,’ ” said TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. “Anant Singh first gave the book to me when the first edition came out. We have been talking about making this film since 1999. There have been a number of stop and goes, but sometimes things work out for a reason, and Anant Singh has done a masterful job in producing this epic story of our times.”
Producer Anant Singh has tried to get the film off the ground for more than two decades, communicating with Mandela from prison and acquiring his biography in 1996. “Skyfall” thesp Naomie Harris also stars as Mandela’s former wife Winnie, with Justin Chadwick (“The Other Boleyn Girl”) directing.
“Les Miserables” scribe William Nicholson penned the script, which covers Mandela’s life from childhood in a rural village to becoming the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
Several producers originally chased the book rights, but the longstanding relationship between Mandela and Singh paid off.
“Singh is a producer I respect very much,” Mandela said. “Given the resources and backing, he will produce a work of the highest standards and excellence, and it is for that reason, I opted for him.”
No release date has been set, but the film is in post-production, making a 2013 release likely. It would join TWC fall kudos-season hopefuls “The Butler,” starring Forest Whitaker, and “August: Osage County,” starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.
The deal was negotiated in London by David Glasser and Michal Steinberg for The Weinstein Company and Anant Singh and Alan Grodin of Weintraub Tobin for Distant Horizon.