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‘Arrival’s’ FilmNation Sets Gender-Equality Drama Thriller ‘Civil War’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Joining Lava Bear Films and 21 Laps as a producer on Venice competition player ‘Arrival,’ Glen Basner’s FilmNation puts ‘Civil War’ into development, reinvents itself as as a leading production force

Glen Basner’s FilmNation Entertainment, in Venice for “Arrival,”  is teaming with screenwriter David Kukoff to develop, produce, and finance feature equal-rights drama “Civil War.”

From an existing script by Kukoff, “Civil War” turns on the true story of the bitter battle to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in 1973, which became a hotbed of dispute for both sides of the gender equality movement that continues to this day. Repped by ESA, Kukoff is managed by Peter Heller, who is producing with FilmNation.

“Civil War” “has all the makings of a great dramatic thriller — rich, complex characters, unexpected twists and turns, and themes that couldn’t be more relevant,” said FilmNation founder-CEO Basner, calling the project “unique, thought-provoking and deeply entertaining.”

“Civil War” marks the latest addition to FilmNation’s development-production slate as the company completes what Basner termed an 18-month process of “reinventing what the company is,” transforming from “the leading international sales agency to the leading independent production, finance, and international distribution company.”

“When people ask me what I want FilmNation to be, I can just tell them to watch ‘Arrival,’” Basner said.

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama “Arrival” — produced with Lava Bear Films and 21 Laps, financed with Lava Bear and sold out internationally by FilmNation — created waves at Cannes in 2014 when FilmNation, Lava Bear and WME clinched a fest record $20 million sale to Paramount Pictures for North American and Chinese distribution rights to the pic. Sony  Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions bought most of international just a few days later.

“‘Arrival’ represents our ambitions, our dreams and our passions for original film-work and storytelling. It represents where FilmNation as a company is today,” said Basner.

He added: “If you look at the amount of production dollars we’ve put to work in the last 18 months, and you look outside the studios and Lionsgate, it would be hard to find many companies that have put that much capital in investment in feature films.”

“Arrival” will be followed by FilmNation productions such as John Lee Hancock’s “The Founder,” with Michael Keaton, co-produced with The Combine; and “Gifted,” produced with Andy Cohen, starring Chris Evans as a man raising his child-prodigy niece.

FilmNation is also selling and financing or co-financing: “HHhH,” with Alain Goldman producing, “The Sense of an Ending,” with Origin Pictures and BBC Films handling production, and “The Big Sick,” produced by Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel.

That’s a wide-ranging slate. “It’s not about being eclectic in our film choices. Rather, we gravitate towards and are committed to the creation of distinctive, original storytelling,” Basner said.

Another tenet still holds: “flexibility,” he added.

“We’re in our ninth year of existence. There’s never been a moment where we’ve felt we have too many films that excite us. So we’ve built a range of tools that provide us different avenues to be involved in great movies.

“Sales? Fantastic. Development and/or financing? Fantastic as well,” Basner said.

Basner calculated that FilmNation had produced and/or co-financed seven movies in the last 18 months. “That’s a lot, but we’d like to maintain that rate of production and have the capacity to do so.”

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