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In today’s film news roundup, “Deadpool 2: I Love My Family” opened in first place in China, Chiwetel Ejiofor takes a directing gig, and Theo James’ “Lying and Stealing” gets distribution.

BOX OFFICE

Fox’s re-cut, PG-13 “Deadpool 2: I Love My Family” has opened in first place in China, with $8.5 million in its first day on Friday.

It’s the first time that the foul-mouthed Ryan Reynolds series has passed China’s censorship standards. The profanity-free version was initially released in the U.S. in December as a Christmas-themed “Once Upon a Deadpool” and grossed about $6 million in a dozen days in North America.

The R-rated “Deadpool 2” grossed $318 million in North America and another $419 million overseas during the summer.

DIRECTOR ATTACHMENT

Los Angeles Media Fund has hired Chiwetel Ejiofor to adapt and direct a movie based on the book “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League.”

The book, written by Jeff Hobbs, was a New York Times bestseller and named a best book of the year by the New York Times Book Review. The film will be produced by Antoine Fuqua and Rebecca Hobbs along with Andrea Calderwood and Kat Samick. Jeffrey Soros and Simon Horsman will produce on behalf of Los Angeles Media Fund, which will fully finance the project.

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Peace escaped his crime-ridden city, went to Yale on a full scholarship, and graduated with honors in molecular biochemistry and biophysics. He was gunned down at age 30 by rival drug dealers just blocks from where he grew up.

“I’m deeply honoured to bring Robert Peace’s painful and profound story to the screen,” said Ejiofor. “A story that reminds us that the social mobility at the heart of the American Dream remains, for many, as stubbornly elusive now as it ever was.”

The deal was brokered by CAA Media Finance, which is handling worldwide sales. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

ACQUISITION

Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV have acquired the North American distribution rights to Matt Aselton’s “Lying and Stealing,” a crime drama starring Theo James and Emily Ratajkowski.

A theatrical release is planned for the second quarter. Voltage Pictures is selling international rights.

James stars as a suave, young thief whose specialty is stealing high end art from the L.A. elite. Ratajkowski portrays an aspiring actress with a closet full of skeletons and a mountain of debt. The duo decides to team up for one last, big daring heist.

The deal was negotiated by Peter Jarowey and Josh Spector at Vertical and UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers. The film was directed by Aselton from a script he wrote with Adam Nagata, produced by Mohamed AlRafi, Michael Costigan, Naomi Despres, and Aselton and executive produced by James, Christopher Tricarico, and Lisa Wolofsky.