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Film News Roundup: Rita Moreno Joins Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ Reboot

In today’s film news roundup, Rita Moreno joins the “West Side Story” reboot, “Justified Vengeance” unveils its cast, Zane Holtz’s “Beyond the Night” gets acquired, and Jamie Bell’s “Skin” closes territorial deals.

CASTINGS

Rita Moreno will join the cast of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Broadway musical “West Side Story.”

Moreno will also serve as an executive producer of the film. She won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 film version of “West Side Story.” In the new “West Side Story,” Moreno will be playing Valentina, a reconceived version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony works.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work,” Moreno said. “And to be asked by Steven Spielberg to participate is simply thrilling! Then to work together with the brilliant playwright, Tony Kushner — what a glorious stew! I am tingling!”

Spielberg said, “From our earliest discussions, we wanted to include Rita Moreno in our production. Her Anita is one of the greatest musical performances ever filmed, and a personal favorite of mine. We created an original role for her, and we feel beyond fortunate that Rita will bring her extraordinary gifts as an actress, as well as her deep understanding of ‘West Side Story’ to this production as an executive producer.”

Kushner wrote the adaptation of the 1957 musical. Spielberg, Kevin McCollum, and Kristie Macosko Krieger will produce the movie, which will be released by Fox. Filming for “West Side Story” is set to begin in the summer of 2019. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

ACQUISITIONS

Breaking Glass Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to the supernatural mystery-thriller “Beyond the Night,” starring Zane Holtz.

The movie marks writer/director Jason Noto’s directorial debut. Breaking Glass acquired rights to the pic in a deal negotiated between Breaking Glass CEO Rich Wolff and producer Robin Garvick on behalf of NewAley Pictures, Summerhawk Films, and Reckless Productions.

The movie will open theatrically in Los Angeles in early January, followed by a DVD and VOD release in the first quarter of 2019. “Beyond the Night” centers on the revelation of damning information about a local gangster’s missing daughter, causing a war of attrition that wreaks havoc on a forgotten coal-mining town.

“Beyond the Night” held its world premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival and went on to play the Austin Film Festival. The movie also stars Tammy Blanchard, Chance Kelly, and Azhy Robertson, and co-stars Neal Huff, Skipp Sudduth, and Enid Graham.

SALES

Voltage Pictures has closed territorial deals on Guy Nattiv’s “Skin,” starring Jamie Bell, Vera Farmiga, and Danielle Macdonald after introducing the title to international buyers at the recent American Film Market.

“Skin” premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Fipresci Prize. Voltage closed major deals on the biopic, including Lionsgate for the U.K., Ascot Elite for Germany and Switzerland, Sun Film Group for Italy and Poland, The Jokers for France, Twelve Oaks for Spain, King Records for Japan, Contents Panda for Korea, amd Volga for Baltics and Russia. A24/DirecTV acquired the pic for North American distribution.

“Skin” follows the story of Bryon Widner (played by Bell), a young man who risks it all to turn his back on the notorious group of white supremacist skinheads who raised him and transformed his life. Maven Pictures’ Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler produced the film alongside Jaime Ray Newman, Oren Moverman, Dillon D. Jordan, and Nattiv, who directed from his own screenplay.

Production companies include Maven Pictures, Sight Unseen Pictures, New Native Pictures, Tugawood Pictures, PaperChase Films, Lost Lane Entertainment, Brookstreet Pictures, Come What May Productions, Allusionist Picture House, and Hua Wen Movie Group. Nattiv is repped by ICM Partners and Matt Luber of Luber Roklin.

PRODUCTION

Put Up Entertainment plans to begin production in December of the actioner “Justified Vengeance,” starring martial artist Paul Mormando, Freedom Williams, and Marc John Jefferies.

The film is directed by Anna Mormando (“Bound by Debt”). It’s represented by Wonderphil Entertainment.

Mormando stars as a working-class single dad whose world shatters when his daughter is brutally murdered, forcing him to become a vigilante. He decides to take matters into his own hands and embarks on a full-scale war with local street gangs.

The movie starts shooting in New York City in December.

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