IFC Films has bought North American rights to “The Death of Stalin” out of the Berlin Film Festival’s European Film Market, Variety has learned.
Closed by Gaumont, the sale was in the seven figure range. A bidding war involved several distributors, including A24 and The Orchard, according to insiders. The film is a comic look at how Joseph Stalin’s stroke in 1953 threw the USSR into chaos and inspired a mad power grab among his top advisers. It reunites IFC with Armando Iannucci. The company released the writer and director’s “In the Loop,” which earned Iannucci an Oscar nomination for its screenplay. He also created the Emmy-winning political satire “Veep” for HBO. Adrian McLoughlin plays Stalin. Iannucci specializes in a kind of four-letter filled lunacy and has long applied his rapier wit to taking down the pettiness of bureaucratic infighting in the likes of “In the Loop,” “Veep,” and “The Thick of It.” His attraction to Soviet Russia makes sense.
The all-star cast made this a hot title at Berlin. It includes Steve Buscemi (“Boardwalk Empire”), Simon Russell Beale (“Into the Woods”), Rupert Friend (“Homeland”), Jason Isaacs (the Harry Potter films), Michael Palin (“A Fish Called Wanda”), and Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”).
Iannucci wrote the screenplay with David Schneider and Ian Martin with additional material by Peter Fellows. Yann Zenou, Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky, Laurent Zeitoun and Kevin Loader produced the picture.
Adapted from the French graphic novel by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin, and based on a true story, “The Death of Stalin” chronicles the chaotic days before Stalin’s funeral, marked by fierce infighting for the supreme power.
CAA represented Gaumont, which financed the film, in the negotiations. Iannucci is represented by UTA.