The Weinstein Company and Quentin Tarantino have selected Sony Pictures to internationally distribute Django Unchained. While Universal, which handled foreign distribution for Inglourious Basterds, lobbied hard for the film, sources tell Deadline that the movie went to Sony in an effort to sign Will Smith to the lead role. Smith has a long history with the studio dating back to 1997′s Men in Black, and as we reported on Friday, Tarantino has offered Smith the role of slave-turned-bounty-hunter Django. The project is being billed as a “Southern”, taking the tropes of a Western and transplanting them to the American south as an attempt to look at the region’s ugly history of racism and slavery.
The role would certainly be a far cry from Smith’s upcoming film, Men in Black III, and a huge risk for the actor, but it would be unlike anything else he’s ever done in his career. If Smith signs on, he’ll join Christoph Waltz who plays a German bounty hunter that trains Django and assists him in his quest to free his enslaved wife from a plantation owner.