RLJ Entertainment has acquired all North American rights to “Nina,” starring Zoe Saldana as American singer-songwriter Nina Simone.
David Oyelowo also stars as her manager Clifton Henderson. Cynthia Mort directs from her own script.
RLJ announced the deal Thursday at the start of the Toronto Film Festival, and plans a December release.
Simone, who died in 2003, was a singer, songwriter and civil rights activist who performed in a wide range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, gospel and pop. She was a 15-time Grammy nominee and received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2000.
RLJ Entertainment topper Robert L. Johnson, who founded BET network, said he had a deep affinity for Simone.
“I had the special privilege early in my career of working with Ms. Simone while coordinating a performance for former D.C. Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy, and knowing first-hand of her major contribution to the soul and emotion of the Civil Rights Movement,” he said. “I look forward as I am sure many others will, to her story and legacy being made available by RLJ Entertainment to consumers on various media platforms in the coming months.”
The story follows Simone’s struggle to balance music, family and what she believes in, which leaves her living alone in France feeling exiled from her own country until she meets Henderson, who helps her rediscover meaning in her life and music, and to once again embrace America.
Producers are Barnaby Thompson, Ben Latham-Jones, Stuart Parr and Cynthia Mort. Executive producers are Pierre Lagrange, Allison Sarofim, Aigerim Jakisheva, Zoe Saldana, David Oyelowo, James Spring, Gene Kirkwood, Lauren Lloyd and Paul Rosenberg.
RLJ executives Mark Ward and Angela Northington negotiated the deal with ICM Partners behalf of the filmmakers.