CANNES: Sony Pictures Classics Buys Palme d’Or Frontrunner ‘Leviathan’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Deal negotiated between SPC and Pyramide Intl Friday night at Cannes on the eve of Saturday’s Cannes awards announcement

CANNES — Sony Pictures Classics has acquired U.S. and Canada rights to “Leviathan,” Russian master Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Cannes competition sensation which has proved one of the most applauded films in Cannes’ 2014 lineup.

Deal was negotiated through Friday night at the Cannes Festival.

A withering portrait of Russian state corruption and lack of justice, the Pyramide Intl.-sold “Leviathan” received raves from reviewers Friday – “Variety” called it a stunning satire – rapturous applause after its Friday public screening.

It weighed in Saturday as one of the frontrunners to snag Cannes Festival’s Palme d’Or or other major kudos at tonight’s Cannes awards ceremony.

Written by Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, “Leviathan” is produced by Alexander Rodnyansky, whose wide-ranging credits include “Cloud Atlas,” “Stalingrad,” and “Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.”

It stars Alexey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova and Vladimir Vdovichenkov. A loose retelling of the Book of Job, Zvyagintsev has explained, “Leviathan” is set in a small town near the Barents Sea, in North Russia, where a man suffers the attempts of a corrupt local mayor to evict him from his land. He fights back, with ghastly consequences.

“As good as the greatest of Russian novels, ‘Leviathan’ is a spectacular movie. We can’t wait to bring it to American audiences,” said Sony Pictures Classics.

“We are so happy to have ‘Leviathan’ in the expert hands of the team at Sony Pictures Classics. This film is very special to us as filmmakers; it tells powerful and universal truths that are grounded in a personal and intimate story. We believe it is Andrey Zviagentsev’s finest work to date and we are proud that American audiences will see it.” said Rodnyansky.

“We are so proud and happy to sell ‘Leviathan’ to SPC,” said Pyramide president Eric Lagesse.

“It is the first time Andrey Zvyagintsev will be released in the U.S. by such a big distributor. We know we found the best possible distributor for ‘Leviathan’ to have a great run in the U.S.”

Added Pyramide International’s head of sales Lucero Garzon, who negotiated the deal with SPC: “I am delighted that such a solid company as Sony Pictures Classics will be distributing ‘Leviathan’ in North America. It is the film’s most appropriate distributor and will take ‘Leviathan’ to another level there.”

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