FilmDistrict airlifts ‘Red Dawn’ from MGM

Pic made headlines for changing nationality of villains

As FilmDistrict continues to establish its identity as a distributor of titles that need careful handling like “Drive” and Angelina Jolie’s “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” the company is taking on its biggest marketing challenge yet, as it negotiates to acquire the remake of “Red Dawn” from MGM.

A political hot potato, the mid-budget pic made headlines earlier this year when its producers decided to digitally change the nationality of the film’s villains from Chinese to North Korean, for fear of offending the Chinese government.

A source close to the production confirmed the negotiations and said that “Red Dawn” will likely hit U.S. theaters during the fall of 2012.

The original “Red Dawn” was released in 1984 before the Soviet Union collapsed, revolving around a group of teens who fight off Soviet and Cuban invaders.

Dan Bradley directed the “Red Dawn” remake, which was produced by Beau Flynn, Tripp Vinson and Vincent Newman. Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) stars alongside Adrianne Palicki, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck, Isabel Lucas and Connor Cruise, the son of Tom Cruise.

Pic began production two years ago and has been in limbo since MGM emerged from bankruptcy in late 2009. Opting against releasing the film, MGM wasn’t able to interest any majors in distribution.

FilmDistrict also released the Guillermo del Toro-produced “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” a Miramax title that Disney decided against releasing following the former company’s sale to a consortium of investors led by Ron Tutor.