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Pele Project Set For August Start Of Production

Soccer great heading to Cannes

Soccer legend Pele is headed for the big screen with Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures going into production in August on a coming of age story.

Pele is also headed to Cannes next week, appearing on May 16, to help promote “Pele.” Exclusive Media will begin selling international rights on the portrait of a figure many regard as the greatest soccer player ever.

Producers are Brian Grazer, Ivan Orlic, Kim Roth and Dany Wolf with Pele, Paul Kemsley and Guy East executive producing. Brothers Jeff and Michael Zimbalist will direct from their own screenplay.

Project, set up last year at Imagine, recaps Pele’s rise to glory from his impoverished youth in Brazil to a soccer prodigy who led Brazil to its first-ever FIFA World Cup victory in 1958. Brazil, with Pele leading the way, also won World Cups in 1962 and 1970.

Producers are aiming to complete the film in time for the start of  next year’s World Cup in Brazil, which runs from June 12 to July 13. As attention builds for the World Cup, “Pele” could be an attractive title for international  theatrical exhibitors.

Domestic rights to “Pele” are jointly represented by CAA and WME.

It’s the second teaming for Imagine and Exclusive Media, which are in post-production on Ron Howard’s racing thriller “Rush. Universal has set “Rush” for a Sept. 20 opening in the U.S.

The Zimbalist brothers directed and produced the 2010 documentary “The Two Escobars” — which recapped Colombia’s World Cup run in 1994, the narcotics cartel run by Pablo Escobar and the killing of Colombian player Andres Escobar (no relation to Pablo). Jeff Zimbalist also directed the documentary “Favela Rising,” which explores the Afro-reggae movement.

Orlic’s Seine Pictures launched last year and is pursuing projects both as producers and financiers.

Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures licensed Pele’s life rights from Sports Licensing International B.V.

Earlier this week, Epic Pictures Group announced it was developing a “Rocky”-style movie version of the life of soccer superstar Lionel Messi. Epic will finance and produce the film.

The “Pele” deals were negotiated by WME on behalf of Pele, Paul Kemsley, Michael and Jeff Zimbalist and Sports Licensing International B.V; CAA on behalf of Imagine Entertainment; Michael Mayerson and Kevin Garlitz of Loeb&Loeb on behalf of Seine Pictures; and Exclusive Media’s COO of International, Paul Davidge.

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