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Film News Roundup: Robert Knepper, Armin Amiri to Star in ‘1st Born’

In today’s film news roundup, Robert Knepper and Armin Amiri join “1st Born,” Cynthia Erivo will star in “Bad Times at the El Royale,” Lior Raz joins “Operation Finale,,” SXSW announces more speakers, Mark Duplass’ “Creep 2” gets a release date and “Dunkirk” gets a special promotion this weekend for the U.S. military.

CASTINGS

Robert Knepper (“Prison Break”) and Armin Amiri have joined Val Kilmer, William Baldwin, and Jay Abdo in the comedy “1st Born,” Variety has learned exclusively.

“1st Born,” a joint feature film co-production between Iran and Hollywood, is set to start filming in Los Angeles next month. It centers on a newlywed couple — Iranian-born Ben and American Kate — who are living the American dream in sunny California. When their first pregnancy has complications, it brings the whole family together.

Amiri will portray Ben and Abdo will play his father. Knepper’s character is a Iraqi War veteran who befriends Abdo’s character.

Hollywood-based LA Independent Film and Entertainment is producing “1st Born” with Sam Khoze leading the team, which includes producer Edwin Avaness and associate producer Pourya Naserbakht. Iranian helmer Ali Atshani will direct.

Knepper has had a recurring role in “Twin Peaks,” and is repped by Innovative Artists and LINK Entertainment. Amiri is repped by Ellis Talent Group in Los Angeles, Camilla Storey Management in London, and Headline Talent Agency in New York.

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Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo has joined Fox’s thriller “Bad Times at the El Royale,” playing a singer who’s down on her luck.

Jeff Bridges and Chris Hemsworth are in talks to star in “Bad Times,” with Drew Goddard producing and directing from his own script. The story is set at a run-down hotel near California’s Lake Tahoe in the 1960s.

Erivo won the Tony Award for best actress in a musical for the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple” and nabbed a Grammy for best musical theater album. She’s starring in Steve McQueen’s heist film “Widows” and will play Harriet Tubman in the biopic “Harriet.”

Erivo is repped by UTA and Authentic.

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Lior Raz, the co-creator and star of Israeli TV political thriller series “Fauda,” is joining Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley in MGM’s “Operation Finale,” the story of the capture of Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

Chris Weitz is directing the drama from Matthew Orton’s  screenplay about the capture of Eichmann, who was one of the major architects of the Holocaust. Eichmann organized the transport of Jews from countries all over Europe to concentration camps, where an estimated 6 million died.

When World War II was ending, Eichmann fled to his home country of Austria and then moved to Argentina. Eichmann was captured in Argentina in 1960 by the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service. Following a trial in Israel, he was found guilty of war crimes and hanged in 1962 at the age of 56.

Isaac has been cast as Peter Malkin, the Mossad operative who led a group of Israeli spies searching for Eichmann. He’s also producing along with Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Fred Berger under their Automatik company and Inspire Entertainment’s Jason Spire. Matt Charman, who wrote “Bridge of Spies,” is executive producing.

Raz will portray Isser Harel, the director of Mossad who allows Peter Malkin to lead the Argentina mission. He’s repped by UTA, Principato-Young Entertainment and Rinat Eithan in Israel.

FESTIVALS

South by Southwest Conference & Festivals has announced Ta-Nehisi Coates, the national correspondent for The Atlantic, as a keynote speaker.

The conference-festival, which runs from March 9 to March 19, previously announced SXSW keynotes Barry Jenkins (film), Esther Perel (interactive), and whurley (convergence).

“Ta-Nehisi Coates continues to explore America’s complex history of inequality with a voice that is both powerful and passionate,” said chief programming officer Hugh Forrest. “His unique perspective highlights an important aspect of SXSW — sharing new ideas to common challenges in order to drive change.”

Featured speakers announced Wednesday include investor Mark Cuban, ABC News co-anchor Dan Harris, songwriter and producer Savan Kotecha, chief scientist of Google Cloud Fei-Fei Li, “The Daily Show” correspondent Hasan Minhaj, “CBS This Morning” co-host and 60 Minutes correspondent Charlie Rose, O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly, and Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth.

RELEASE DATES

The Orchard has set an Oct. 24 release date for “Creep 2,” with Desiree Akhavan and Mark Duplass reprising his role from the 2014 original.

Patrick Brice returns to direct from a screenplay he co-wrote with Duplass. Akhavan plays a video artist who tries to create intimacy with lonely men. She drives to a remote house in the forest and meets a man claiming to be a serial killer (Duplass). Unable to resist the chance to make a truly shocking piece of art, she agrees to spend the day with him, but soon discovers she may have dug herself into a hole she can’t escape.

Netflix will be releasing the film later this year.

“We are overjoyed to bring the next chapter of ‘Creep’ into into the world,” Brice said. “The fact that audiences have embraced the first film in such an unexpected way has been so heartening.”

MOVIE PROMOTION

Warner Bros. Pictures is offering all military personnel — both active duty and retired — a free ticket to Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic “Dunkirk” with the purchase of one ticket this weekend.

The offer begins on Friday and continues throughout the Labor Day holiday. Anyone with an active duty or retired military ID can present it at the box office for a complimentary second ticket to the film.

“Dunkirk” portrays the courage and resilience of British and Allied soldiers trapped on the beach at Dunkirk, France, in 1940. The movie has crossed the $410 million mark worldwide.

The cast includes Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy and Barry Keoghan, with Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.

 

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