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Film News Roundup: Lily James Eyes British Drama ‘The Dig’ With Carey Mulligan

In today’s film news roundup, Lily James circles a British drama role, “Blackjack: The Jackie Ryan Story” has started production, Laika makes a veteran hire and “Beanpole” and “Just Noise” get distribution.

CASTINGS

Lily James is in negotiations to join Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes in the British historical drama “Dig,” set up at Netflix.

Based on a true story, James will portray an archaeology student. Mulligan will play a widow who believes her land contains buried riches and then turns her property into an archaeological site. Fiennes will portray a local archaeologist.

Simon Stone is directing with Gabrielle Tana producing. The project was previously set up for BBC Films with Nicole Kidman attached.

James starred in “Baby Driver” and “Yesterday” and has been shooting a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” alongside Armie Hammer. James is repped by UTA and U.K.’s Tavistock Wood.

PRODUCTION STARTS

Production has started in New York City and Brooklyn on the independent sports drama “Blackjack: The Jackie Ryan Story,” starring Greg Finley.
Directed and produced by Danny A. Abeckaser, the cast features Brandon Lee, Michael Rapaport, David Arquette, Ashley Greene and Bo Dietl.
The story centers on a hot tempered and self-centered streetball legend, whose dreams of playing professional basketball seem to have passed him by after years of hard partying and neglect. He works construction alongside his overbearing father and wise-cracking best friend but is then invited to try out for the New Jersey Nets.

EXECUTIVE HIRE

Popular on Variety

Oregon-based animation studio Laika has hired film industry veteran David Burke as chief marketing officer.

Burke had been general manager for Universal Pictures for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland since 2006.

“Dave Burke is an extraordinarily talented marketing professional with over two decades of global movie business experience,” says Knight. “As we continue to build our studio and the Laika brand, Dave’s counsel and leadership will be of immeasurable value.”

ACQUISITIONS

Kino Lorber has acquired the U.S. rights to Russian historical drama “Beanpole” for release next year.

Kantemir Balagov directed the film, which stars Viktoria Miroshnichenko and Vasilisa Perelygina in their debut performances as women searching for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins of Leningrad in 1945. The film is an original story written by Balagov and inspired by Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich’s book “The Unwomanly Face of War”.

“Beanpole” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in Un Certain Regard, where Balagov was awarded the Best Director Prize. The film made its North American premiere at the Telluride Film Festival over the weekend and will make its Canadian premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival later this week. The news was first reported by Screen.

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Electric Entertainment has acquired worldwide distribution rights to the Maltese production of “Just Noise,” starring Harvey Keitel and Malcolm McDowell.
The feature film, which begins shooting this month, is produced and written by Jean-Pierre Magro, produced by Pedja Miletic and Aaron Briffa and directed by Davide Ferrario.
The announcement was made Thursday at The Toronto International Film Festival by Dean Devlin, CEO of Electric Entertainment. The story centers on how Maltese citizens fought for their independence against the British Crown in 1919 and how unarmed protestors were killed by the British army.

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