×

Taraji P. Henson-Sam Rockwell Drama ‘Best of Enemies’ Bought by STX

STXfilms has acquired domestic distribution rights to Astute Films’ civil rights drama “The Best of Enemies,” starring Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell.

Babou Ceesay (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”), Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, Bruce McGill, Tony Award-winner John Gallagher Jr., and Nick Searcy (“The Shape of Water”) lead the supporting cast.

“Empire” star Henson portrays Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist in Durham, N.C., who battled KKK leader C.P. Ellis (played by Rockwell) for a decade until 1971, when the two agreed to co-chair a two-week community meeting to deal with a court-ordered school desegregation decree. That event changed both of their lives. Ceesay portrays Bill Riddick, who reluctantly persuaded Ellis and Atwater to head the community summit to try and reach a compromise.

Robin Bissell, an exec producer on “The Hunger Games” and “Seabiscuit,” is making his directorial debut from his own script, inspired by Osha Gray Davidson’s book “The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South.” Producers include Danny Strong, Fred Bernstein, Matt Berenson, Bissell, Dominique Telson, and Material Pictures’ Tobey Maguire and Matthew Plouffe. Rick Jackson and Jeremiah Samuels are executive producers.

“Robin Bissell crafted a beautiful look at this unlikely friendship that arose from one of the most unsettling times in our country’s history, with Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell, and the entire cast delivering riveting performances,” said Adam Fogelson, chairman of STXfilms. “STXfilms is proud to come on board for this important and entertaining film that will resonate and evoke dialogue about the timeless humanity that is at the heart of this powerful story.”

Popular on Variety

Rockwell won the best supporting actor Academy Award in March for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Henson was nominated for an Oscar for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

The deal was brokered by UTA Independent Film Group. Henson is represented by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham. Bissell is represented by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Bloom Hergott Diemer. Gallagher Jr. is represented by UTA, Wetzel Entertainment Group, and Morris Yorn.

More Film

  • The 40-Year-Old Version

    'The 40-Year-Old Version': Film Review

    In Radha Blank’s semi-autobiographical comedy “The 40-Year-Old Version,” it’s been more than a decade since the Harlem-based playwright earned a promising “30 Under 30” award, and now, instead of getting her work produced, she’s teaching drama to half a dozen high school students. Tastemakers are constantly looking for the hot new thing, but all these [...]

  • Pamela Tola

    Göteborg: Pamela Tola Proves There is an Audience for Different Stories

    GÖTEBORG, Sweden —  Chosen to close the discussion dedicated to discrimination against elderly people at the Göteborg Film Festival, Pamela Tola’s “Ladies of Steel” fitted right into this year’s focus on feminism and gender at the Swedish event. Which managed to deliver on its 50/50 promise, with 54% of the presented films being directed by [...]

  • Shirley Chen and Jose Angeles appear

    'Beast Beast': Film Review

    Writer-director Danny Madden’s “Beast Beast” clatters to life with organic percussion: a stick rat-a-tatting against an iron fence, a skateboard scraping on concrete, a rifle pinging bullets against a defenseless tin plate. Together, these sounds combine into jazz, despite the discordance of the three teens making such a ruckus. Krista (Shirley Chen), the stick thwacker, [...]

  • Sundance: PBS POV Acquires Kenyan Doc

    Sundance: PBS POV Acquires Kenyan Doc ‘Softie’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    PBS’s documentary arm POV has snapped up U.S. broadcast rights for Kenyan director Sam Soko’s “Softie,” fresh off its world premiere in the World Documentary Cinema competition at Sundance, Variety has learned. The film, which is the first Kenyan-produced movie to premiere at the festival, will air as part of the series’ 33rd season, which kicks [...]

  • Will Smith as Mike Lowrey in

    Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' Rules Over 'The Gentlemen'

    STX’s “The Gentlemen” proved no match for Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life,” which again left box office competitors in the dust after collecting $34 million in its sophomore outing. Those ticket sales, pushing the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence-led sequel past the $100 million mark, were easily enough to claim the No. 1 spot for [...]

  • Kajillionaire

    'Kajillionaire': Film Review

    The world is a weird place. Miranda July knows that, but the rest of us sometimes forget. Or maybe we just don’t want to admit how bizarre it is that society more or less agrees that back rubs and hot tubs and flavored chips and McRibs are an appropriate reward for a bazillion years of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content