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Film News Roundup: Jack O’Connell Crime Drama ‘Trial by Fire’ Bought by Roadside

In today’s film news roundup, “Trial by Fire” and “The Harvesters” get U.S. distribution deals and the Ford vs. Ferrari movie, starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon, gets an awards season release.

ACQUISITIONS

Roadside Attractions has acquired U.S. rights to true-crime drama “Trial By Fire,” starring Jack O’Connell and Laura Dern.

Roadside, which announced the deal Monday, will release the film on May 17. The film is directed by Edward Zwick and adapted by Geoffrey Fletcher, who won an Academy award for “Precious,” from David Grann’s article originally published in The New Yorker in 2009.

“Trial by Fire” had its world premiere at the 2018 Telluride Film Festival, and is produced by Zwick, Allyn Stewart, Kipp Nelson and Alex Soros. Executive producers are Kathryn Dean and Marshall Herskovitz. Soros, the son of billionaire George Soros, financed the project.

“Trial by Fire” centers on the unlikely bond between an imprisoned death row inmate Cameron Todd Willingham, played by O’Connell, and Elizabeth Gilbert, a mother of two from Houston who fights for his freedom. Willingham, an uneducated heavy metal devotee with a violent streak and a criminal record, was convicted of arson-related triple homicide in 1992 and executed in 2004. Gilbert uncovered questionable methods in his case, and battled with the state to expose suppressed evidence.

“Trial By Fire” is the first major motion picture financed by Alex Soros. He said, “I believe it was Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch defender of the death penalty, who said, ‘Not a single defendant in America has ever been erroneously executed. If such an event had occurred … the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.’ Cameron Todd Willingham was an innocent man. This film is that shout.”

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The deal was brokered by Roadside Attractions’ Howard Cohen and Cinetic Media.

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Altered Innocence has picked up the U.S. rights to Etienne Kallos’ debut feature film “The Harvesters,” which debuted in Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival.

“The Harvesters” explores the tense rivalry between two boys of different backgrounds in a religious Afrikaans household after a fiercely religious brings home a hardened street orphan she wants to save, and asks her son to make this stranger into his brother. A theatrical release is planned for the summer.

The deal was negotiated between Frank Jaffe from Altered Innocence and Pyramide’s Head of Sales Agathe Mauruc.

RELEASE DATES

Fox has moved back its untitled Ford vs. Ferrari movie, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, from June 28 to an awards season date of Nov. 15.

“Logan” director James Mangold is helming from a script by screenwriters Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (“Edge of Tomorrow”).

The film follows an eccentric, determined team of American engineers and designers, led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby (Damon) and his British driver, Ken Miles (Bale), who are dispatched by Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca with the mission of building from scratch an entirely new automobile with the potential to finally defeat the perennially dominant Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans World Championship in France.

Caitriona Balfe will portray Miles’ wife and Noah Jupe will play their son. Jon Bernthal is portraying Iacocca. Chernin Entertainment is producing.

Tracy Letts, Paul Sparks and Jack McMullen also star. The Fox movie will open against  New Line’s Bill Condon movie “The Good Liar” with Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren.

Fox has also moved Matthew Vaughn‘s untilted Kingsman prequel from its original Nov. 15 date to Feb. 14, 2020. It will open against MGM’s “Legally Blonde 3” and an untitled Warner Bros. title. The Kingsman prequel is a period drama set during World War I and starring Harris Dickinson, Matthew Goode, and Ralph Fiennes.

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Sony Pictures has dated “Escape Room 2” for April 17, 2020 — 15 months after opening “Escape Room.”

The original film, directed by Adam Robitel, centered on six strangers who try to escape after finding themselves in a maze of deadly rooms.

“Escape Room” has taken in over $118 million at the global box office, including $56.1 million domestically  with several territories left to open. The film took in $34 million in China.

 

 

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