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Film News Roundup: Annette Bening to Star in Christoph Waltz’s Directorial Debut ‘Georgetown’

In today’s film news roundup, Annette Bening has joined Christoph Waltz and Vanessa Redgrave in “Georgetown,” Lionsgate has acquired U.S. rights to Roland Emmerich’s World War II movie “Midway,” and Film Movement has bought three documentaries.

CASTING

Annette Bening has joined Christoph Waltz and Vanessa Redgrave in the crime drama “Georgetown.” The film, which is shooting in Canada, marks Waltz’s directorial debut.

The project, based on the New York Times Magazine article by Franklin Foer, centers on Albrecht Muth (played by Waltz), an eccentric social climber who seduced and married a wealthy older widow, Viola Drath, portrayed by Redgrave. Muth and Drath entered the top political circles as they threw lavish events, with Muth lying extensively about his background — which came to light after Drath was found murdered in 2011 at their home in Georgetown.

Muth was 26 when he married the 71-year-old Drath in 1990. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison in 2014.

Brett Ratner and David Gerson are producing the film for RatPac Entertainment alongside Andrew Levitas of Metalwork Pictures, which is also financing the pic. Brad Feinstein also produced “Georgetown” and his company Romulus Entertainment also financed.

Len Blavatnik will serve as executive producer for RatPac. The script was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and playwright David Auburn (“Proof”).

Bening is portraying the daughter of the victim in “Georgetown.” She recently served as president of the Venice Film Festival jury and is promoting her role in “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.”

ACQUISITIONS

Lionsgate has acquired U.S. rights to Roland Emmerich’s World War II battle movie “Midway,” with China’s Bona Film Group leading the investment for The Mark Gordon Company.

The project was unveiled in May at the Cannes Film Festival. Bona will distribute the film in China and retains worldwide distribution rights, excluding the U.S.

The Battle of Midway was a decisive naval battle that took place in June 1942 in the South Pacific — six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The U.S. Navy defeated an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy near Midway Atoll after U.S. codebreakers were able to pinpoint the time and place of the attack. The damage to the Japanese fleet was so extensive that it never recovered and military historians regard the battle as a turning point in the war.

The story of the Battle of Midway was the subject of Universal’s 1976 epic “Midway,” starring Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Glenn Ford, Hal Holbrook, Toshiro Mifune, and Robert Mitchum. The film, produced by Walter Mirisch, was a major success, grossing $42 million at the box office. The Lionsgate news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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Film Movement has acquired rights to documentaries “Shadowman” from director Oren Jacoby; “Coby,” Christian Sonderegger’s feature debut; and Irish surfing movie “Between Land and Sea” from Ross Whitaker.

“Shadowman” will receive a theatrical release this December, while the other films will debut in 2018, with digital and home entertainment releases to follow.

“Shadowman” centers on Richard Hambleton, who painted hundreds of startling silhouettes on the walls of lower Manhattan in the 1980s before drug addiction and homelessness forced him to exit the art scene for 20 years. It premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

“Coby” premiered at the Cannes ACID (Association for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema) this year. It’s set in a small Midwest town, where Suzanna, age 23, changes gender and becomes a boy: Coby. The transformation deeply disrupts the lives of all who love her.

“Between Land and Sea” portrays a year in the life of an Irish surf town at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Vision Films has acquired the thriller “Dead on Arrival” for worldwide distribution, Variety has learned exclusively.

Directed by Stephen C. Sepher, “Dead on Arrival” stars Billy Flynn, Christa B. Allen, D. B. Sweeney, Chris Mulkey, Lillo Brancato, Tyson Sullivan, Scottie Thompson, and Billy Slaughter. Flynn plays a sales rep who visits a small town in Louisiana to close the business deal of a lifetime, and finds himself in a dark world of corruption and murder when he is poisoned with no antidote to save his life.

“Dead on Arrival” is inspired by the noir thriller “D.O.A.,” starring Edmond O’Brien, and features a special guest appearance from his daughter, Maria O’Brien.

“Dead on Arrival” is a Kingfisher Media-Boatyard Productions feature, produced by Rory Fradella, Kim Barnard, and Stephen C. Sepher. Vision Films will release the movie as a limited theatrical day and date release with DVD and VOD in North America in early 2018.

FILM FESTIVAL

NewFest will open with the documentary “Susanne Bartsch: On Top” on Oct. 19 at New York’s SVA Theatre for the festival’s 29th annual celebration of LGBT films, Variety has learned exclusively.

Screenings will take at the SVA Theatre, Cinépolis Chelsea, and The LGBT Community Center. “Susanne Bartsch” feature appearances by RuPaul, Amanda Lepore, Michael Musto, and Bill Cunningham.

Vincent Gagliostro’s “After Louie” will screen as the festival’s New York centerpiece film. Starring Alan Cumming and Zachary Booth, the movie is a cross-generational look at the effect the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic had on individuals and their art.

The festival’s international centerpiece film is “God’s Own Country” from writer/director/actor Francis Lee. The movie won the Sundance Film Festival’s world cinema directing award and the Michael Powell Award for best British feature film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Daniel Powell and Elizabeth Rohrbaugh’s “Becks,” starring Lena Hall, Christine Lahti, and Mena Suvari, will close NewFest with its New York premiere. The film is inspired by the life of singer and songwriter Alyssa Robbins.

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