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Cannes: Amazon Sweeps in To Buy Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘You Were Never Really Here’

Updated: In a last-minute deal, Amazon Studios swept in to buy U.S. rights to “You Were Never Really Here” for around $3.5 million.

The drama, starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Lynne Ramsay (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”), is one of the buzzier projects to be sold on the Cannes market. The story focuses on a former war veteran (played by Phoenix) who tries to save women trapped in the world of sex trafficking. It’s seen as being a revenge fantasy in the style of “Drive.”

Variety reported on Friday that A24 was in final negotiations to acquire the project. After Variety‘s story was published, A24 sent out a tweet that read “Bienvenue a A24!” (French for “Welcome to A24”) with the distributor’s upcoming slate and included “You Were Never Really Here” as one of its titles, confirming that the project was theirs.

But although a deal with A24 was set to close (said to be worth around $2 million), sources tell Variety that overnight, Amazon significantly upped their offer to $3.5 million, causing pandemonium as the producers in the end sold the movie to the streaming service.

Production will begin this summer. Ramsay adapted the script, which is based on the novel by Jonathan Ames.

Four days in, the Cannes Film Festival market has been unusually slow, with few big, splashy deals for pre-packaged projects or films that are screening in the festival.

Sales for “You Were Never Really Here” are being handled by Insiders, the company launched last year by Wild Bunch’s founder Vincent Maraval.

Film4 developed the film alongside BFI and Rosa Attab and Pascal Caucheteux are producing for Why Not Productions.

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