Rights to Roland Emmerich’s “Midway” are close to selling out globally, weeks after Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios shopped the World War II action epic at Cannes, AGC Studios president of worldwide distribution Michael Rothstein announced Monday.
The new raft of sales includes deals with prominent distribution companies in Europe’s top five territories: Lionsgate for the U.K., Universum in Germany, France’s Metropolitan Film Export, IIF in Italy and Diamond in Spain. “Midway” has also sold to Sun Distribution for Latin America, Central Partnership for Russia, Mislabel for Scandinavia, Elevation for Canada, and Noori for South Korea.
Deals for the U.S. and China, brokered by CAA, were closed in the run-up to Cannes, with Lionsgate acquiring U.S. rights through its Summit Entertainment label and Bona Film Group for Greater China. Of the world’s biggest 15 markets, only two, Australia and Japan, have yet to close. That should come in the next few weeks, Rothstein said, with the Japan deal completing “once Emmerich has finalized casting of the key Japanese roles.”
AGC Intl., AGC Studios’ international distribution division, also inked European deals for “Midway” with DFW (Benelux), Vertical (Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania), Monolith Films (Poland), Blitz (former Yugoslavia), Ascot Elite (Switzerland) and Odeon (Greece). Other agreements include Empire for South Africa, Aqua for Turkey, Selim Ramia for the Middle East, United King for Israel, Acme or the Baltics, PT Prima for Indonesia, Sahamongkol for Thailand, PVR for India, Squarebox for Malaysia, Pioneer for the Philippines, and Cinesky for airlines.
Now in pre-production, with principal photography scheduled to start Sept. 3, Emmerich’s movie is inspired by the true story of the Battle of Midway, the turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II, chronicling the heroic and harrowing exploits of the soldiers and aviators who inflicted a devastating defeat on Japan’s navy.
With a cast including Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson and Mandy Moore, “Midway” caused waves when AGC Studios announced one week before the Cannes Film Festival in May that it was bringing the action epic onto the open market running alongside the fest.
Produced by Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment, Harald Kloser (“2012,” “Independence Day: Resurgence”), and Mark Gordon (“Saving Private Ryan,” “The Patriot,” “Molly’s Game”), “Midway” weighed in at Cannes as one of its two or three biggest titles, with a budget of around $100 million.
Its pre-sales confirm the major deal-making trend of this year’s Cannes Film Market: A few big projects, some with studio-level budgets and all with big talent attached, were swiftly snatched up by some of the world’s biggest foreign distributors.
“Generally, buyers came to Cannes with a short and very specific list of priority titles and were ready to bid aggressively to secure that premium product,” Rothstein said. “As anticipated, ‘Midway’ was one of those, titles and we did the bulk of these terrific cumulative sales even within the first three to four days of the market.”
“Midway” is written by Wes Tooke (“Colony”) and “Hacksaw Ridge” co-scribe Robert Schenkkan. Financed by Hong Kong-based Starlight Entertainment Group and Providence Entertainment, “Midway” also underscores the importance of Chinese companies in both investment and distribution.
“‘Midway’s’ terrific international Cannes sales will cover a substantial portion of the film’s near-$100 million budget,” said Ford, AGC’s chairman. “But equally as important is the China pre-sale to Bona alongside the equity investment from Starlight and Providence, all previously brokered by CAA. These days, that substantial territorial pre-buy and global investment from one or more Chinese partners is very much de rigueur for independent films budgeted at this level.”