Aviron Pictures has acquired “Serenity,” a thriller with Oscar-winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, and “A Private War,” a portrait of Marie Colvin with Oscar-nominee Rosamund Pike playing the legendary war correspondent, Variety has learned. Both films will debut theatrically in the fall of 2018, though a release date still has to be set.
The “Serenity” deal is for U.S. rights only, while the pact for “A Private War” encompasses rights in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.
“These two films are examples of how we’re trying to diversify our slate and work with top rate filmmakers and producers,” said Aviron Pictures president David Dinerstein.
“Serenity” centers on a fishing boat captain (McConaughey) who is forced to grapple with his mysterious past after a glamorous woman (Hathaway) crashes up against his simple life on a small island in the Caribbean and leaves him questioning his reality. Jason Clarke (“Mudbound”), Djimon Hounsou (“In America”), and Diane Lane (“Unfaithful”) co-star in the film.
“Serenity” was written and directed by Steven Knight. He previously directed and wrote “Locke” with Tom Hardy and wrote the scripts for the likes of “Dirty Pretty Things” and “Eastern Promises.”
“Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway have put in stand-out performances, and Steven Knight is crafting a sexy, moody film that will take the audience places they’d never expect to go,” said Dinerstein. “We’re proud to add it to our growing slate.”
“A Private War” marks the narrative feature film debut of Matthew Heineman, the Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winnng director of the documentaries “Cartel Land” and “City of Ghosts.” It follows Colvin as she chase stories across the most dangerous battlefields in the world. “A Private War” boasts a screenplay by Arash Amel (“Grace of Monaco”) and co-stars Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci, and Tom Hollander. Robert Richardson, who won Oscars for the likes of “JFK” and “Hugo,” handled the cinematography.
“Matthew knows this material having been in war zones and having covered conflicts,” said Dinerstein. “It’s a thrill to be able to work with Matthew because I have such respect for him as a documentarian and humanitarian.”
Aviron formed in 2017 with backing from BlackRock. Dinerstein has substantial experience in the industry, having previously served as the president of Lake Shore Entertainment and as a co-founder of Paramount Classics. Aviron scored a commercial success with “Kidnap,” a thriller with Halle Berry that made $30.7 million when it opened last summer. The goal for the studio is to release up to eight films annually. Upcoming releases include “The Strangers: Prey at Night,” a reboot of the original 2008 horror film with Christina Hendricks; “Three Seconds” a thriller with Joel Kinnaman and Pike; and “Destination Wedding,” a romantic comedy with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder.
“Serenity” was produced by Guy Heeley (“The Escape”) and Academy Award winner Greg Shapiro (“The Hurt Locker”). It’s the first Hollywood feature to shoot on the small Indian Ocean country of Mauritius.
“A Private War” is based on Marie Brenner’s 2012 Vanity Fair story “Marie Colvin’s Private War.” Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk (“Sicario”), Kamala Films’ Marissa McMahon, and Charlize Theron (“Atomic Blonde”) under her Denver & Delilah Productions banner are producing alongside Matthew George’s (“Wind River”) Acacia Entertainment and Savvy Media Holdings, which is also financing. Principal photography was completed in Jordan in 2017, followed by a move to the U.K. early in 2018.
“A Private War” was brought to Aviron’s attention by the Fyzz Facility, the London-based movie production and finance house run by Wayne Godfrey and Robert Jones. The company financed and executive produced the film.
Global Road is handling foreign sales on “Serenity,” which it financed. Foreign sales on “A Private War” are being overseen by Bloom.
Jason Resnick, the head of acquisitions at Aviron Pictures, and Will Sadleir, the head of Aviron Capital, were instrumental in the negotiations and closing of the deals on both films.