Sony Pictures Classics has acquired U.S., German and Scandinavian rights to “Third Person,” directed by Paul Haggis, two months after its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.
Written and directed by Haggis, the film stars Liam Neeson, Kim Basinger, Adrien Brody, James Franco, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, and Maria Bello. Michael Nozik of Hwy61 and Haggis produced the film along with Paul Breuls of Corsan, who also provided the financing.
Sony Pictures Classics said, “Paul Haggis is one of our great movie storytellers and ‘Third Person’ is one of his best works featuring an exceptional cast led by Liam Neeson (also at his best).”
Haggis told Variety after the premiere that audiences would have a strong reaction to the romance.
“People are going to either love it or hate it, like ‘Crash,’” Haggis told Variety. “A lot of people want their movies to be easily understood, underlined and in bold. I want people to talk about this movie afterwards. As an industry, we need to respect the audience more.”
The premiere evoked sustained applause for the complex drama of three intertwined relationships: James Franco and Mila Kunis in New York; Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde in Paris; and Adrien Brody and Moran Atias in Rome.
Haggis began writing the film after completing work on “The Next Three Days,” drawing largely from his own life with an emphasis on the themes of denial, loss and love. He began shooting in January with a 45-day shoot, adding, “It was a healthy budget for an indie but a little uncomfortable.”
It was the third time that Haggis has premiered a film at Toronto. “Crash” screened in 2004 and “In the Valley of Elah” opened there in 2007.
Haggis was nominated for screenwriting Oscars for three straight years for “Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash,” and “Letters From Iwo Jima.” He won screenplay and picture Oscars for “Crash.”
Haggis approached the challenge of writing three stories by doing them one at a time and then mixing and matching the components — with much of that work done in the editing process and in small screenings earlier this year.
Bruels came on board in May 2012 when Neeson and Wilde were attached.
Corsan got 50% of the funding through Belgian tax credits, which require spending money on Belgian elements like development, crew and post-production. “Having that is a formidable cornerstone for the rest of your financing,” Breuls added.
Sony Pictures Classics, CAA and Paradigm negotiated the distribution deal. CAA reps Haggis and Paradigm reps Breuls and Corsan.