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Film News Roundup: 30WEST Buys ‘Beast’; ‘Stephen Rea, Colm Feore Join Chloe Grace Moretz Thriller

In today’s film news roundup, Stephen Rea and Colm Feore join “The Widow,” 30WEST buys rights to the thriller “Beast,” and AFI Fest announces a Robert Altman retrospective.

CASTINGS

Stephen Rea, Colm Feore, and Zawe Ashton have joined the previously announced cast of the thriller “The Widow,” opposite Isabelle Huppert, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Maika Monroe.

Neil Jordan, who won an Academy Award for best original screenplay for “The Crying Game,” will direct from a screenplay by Ray Wright. The project re-teams Jordan with Rea, who received a best actor Oscar nomination for “The Crying Game.”

The film begins principal photography this month. The story is set in New York and follows Moretz’s character as she strikes up an unlikely friendship with an enigmatic widow, played by Huppert, whose motives are gradually revealed to be sinister. Rea plays a private investigator hired to investigate the possibly nefarious intentions of the widow and Feore plays the estranged father of Moretz’s character. Ashton plays a mysterious woman with important information about the widow’s past.

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Lawrence Bender, James Flynn, and Karen Richards are producing the project. Sierra/Affinity will handle foreign sales, and CAA and WME Global will co-represent the film domestically.

Rea’s credits include “V for Vendetta” and the recent BBC television drama “War & Peace” with Paul Dano, Edward Norton, and Lily James. He will next appear in the upcoming Starz sci-fi series “Counterpart” starring J.K. Simmons and Harry Lloyd.

Feore recently appeared alongside Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in the fourth and fifth seasons of “House of Cards” for Netflix. Ashton’s credits include Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals” and the upcoming dramatic series “Guerrilla” for Showtime Network with Idris Elba and Freida Pinto set to star.

Rea is repped by ICM, Independent Talent Group, and Barking Dog Entertainment. Feore is repped by Gersh and the Coronel Group. Ashton is repped by Troika and Link Entertainment.

ACQUISTIONS

Newly minted 30WEST has bought the North American distribution rights to Michael Pearce’s thriller “Beast,” starring Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, and Geraldine James following its Sept. 9 premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

“Beast” is a Film4 and BFI presentation of an Agile Films and Stray Bear Films Production and was produced by Stray Bear Films’ Ivana MacKinnon and Lauren Dark, and Kristian Brodie for Agile Films. Film4’s Sam Lavender, the BFI’s Natascha Wharton, Agile Films’ Myles Payne and David Staniland, and David Kosse are executive producers. “Beast” was developed and funded by Film4 and the BFI (with National Lottery funding).

“Beast” centers on a small island community where a troubled young woman falls for a mysterious outsider who empowers her to escape from her oppressive family. When he comes under suspicion for a series of brutal murders, she defends him at all costs.

30WEST recently teamed with Neon for the rights to “I, Tonya,” starring Margot Robbie, and sold the rights to Morgan Spurlock’s fast-food documentary “Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!” to YouTube Red along with co-rep Cinetic Media.

FESTIVALS

The American Film Institute will present a retrospective of the work of Robert Altman, with screenings and discussions of 12 films at its AFI Fest.

The showings will include “MASH,” “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” “The Long Goodbye,” “California Split,” “Nashville,” “3 Women,” “Vincent & Theo,” “The Player,” “Short Cuts,” “Kansas City,” “Gosford Park,” and “A Prairie Home Companion.”

The AFI Fest will run from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16 with screenings at the TCL Chinese Theatre and other venues in Hollywood.

EXECUTIVE HIRINGS

Screen Engine/ASI has hired industry veteran Holly Leff-Pressman to the newly created position of chief revenue officer, Variety has learned exclusively.

She will report directly to Screen Engine/ASI founder and CEO Kevin Goetz.

“I have followed Holly’s career for many years and have gotten to know her well, which is why I am thrilled she is joining Screen Engine/ASI’s executive team,” said Goetz. “Holly’s experience partnering with media and entertainment companies to build and activate audiences for content consumption will fuel our growth among the exploding ranks of new distribution platforms.”

Leff-Pressman joins SE/ASI from the Nielsen Co. where she was an exec VP. Prior to Nielsen, Leff-Pressman was a senior VP of worldwide PPV/VOD at NBC/Universal.

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Entertainment One has hired Dylan Wilcox as senior vice president of worldwide acquisitions, Variety has learned exclusively.

The announcement was made by Lara Thompson, exec VP of worldwide acquisitions and production for the company’s global film group.

Based in eOne’s Los Angeles office, Wilcox oversees the sourcing and negotiation of license agreements for both domestic and international markets and supports the company’s global acquisitions strategy including day-and-date label Momentum Pictures’ slate, while strengthening key relationships with filmmakers and talent around the world.

Prior to joining eOne, Wilcox consulted for various producers, including Georgia-based Spitfire Studios, where he provided strategic guidance on co-production opportunities. Before that, he served as senior VP of  acquisitions for Relativity Media. He spent over seven years at Universal Pictures as an acquisitions executive working on projects for Focus Features and Universal International.

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