Open Road Films Grabs KILLER ELITE; The Weinstein Company Acquires WU XIA

     May 11, 2011


With the Cannes Film Festival in full swing, expect lots of acquisition stories this week. Today, Open Road Films, which is owned by AMC and Regal Entertainment, made its first acquisition with the U.S. rights to Killer Elite. The action-thriller, directed by Gary McKendry, stars Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro. The film is inspired by true events, and centers on a retired special-ops agent (Statham) who must reunite his old team in order to rescue their mentor (De Niro). Killer Elite is set to be released this fall.

In addition, The Weinstein Company has acquired the world rights to martial arts, film noir epic Wu Xia. Directed by Ho-Sun Chan, the film stars Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Tang Wei. Hit the jump to read both press releases.

Here’s the press release for Killer Elite:

Open Road Films (owned by AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment) has acquired all U.S. distribution rights to Omnilab Media’s Killer Elite, an action thriller starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro and directed by Gary McKendry. Financed by Omnilab Media, the film was produced by Michael Boughen through Omnilab’s Australian production arm, Ambience Entertainment alongside Sigurjon Sighvatsson, Steve Chasman, and Tony Winley. Killer Elite is slated for a fall 2011 release nationwide and will be the first film for the newly launched U.S. distribution venture Open Road Films.

Inspired by true events, Killer Elite is an action adventure spy film following Danny (Statham), one of the world’s most skilled special-ops agents. Lured out of self-imposed exile to execute a near-impossible feat of retribution and personal salvation, Danny reassembles his old team of operatives to help rescue his former mentor (De Niro), and to penetrate the highly feared and respected military unit, the British Special Air Service (SAS). Facing off against a covert group of ex-SAS soldiers known as “The Feather Men,” who, under their leader Spike (Owen), provide a deadly cloak of security around all SAS members, Danny and his team must take down a rogue cell of solider assassins before their actions result in a global political meltdown.

The film’s whirlwind action crosses the globe from Australia to Paris, Wales, London, Dubai and Oman. The story is based on Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ controversial non-fiction novel “The Feather Men.”

Open Road Films CEO Tom Ortenberg stated, “‘Killer Elite’ is a fantastic, adrenaline-rush movie with a stellar cast. As one of the highest profile, big budget independent films available for the US, I am thrilled to have ‘Killer Elite’ as Open Road’s premiere release and to extend my long-standing relationship with the team at Omnilab.”

Killer Elite will be released nationwide in fall 2011 in over 2000 theatres, supported by over $25 million in P&A. The project will be overseen at Open Road Films by Ortenberg and newly minted President of Marketing, Jason Cassidy. The acquisition nearly completes all worldwide sales for the title following the initial strong pre-sales closed by the film’s sales agent, Inferno Entertainment.

Omnilab’s Managing Director Christopher Mapp said, “In Open Road Films we’ve found a fantastic partner to bring ‘Killer Elite’ to American audiences. Their distribution model is one of the most exciting in the marketplace and we are looking forward to an incredibly productive partnership with Tom and his team.”

Here’s the press release for Wu Xia:

The Weinstein Company Acquires WU XIA

New York, NY, May 11, 2011 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that it has acquired from WE Distribution the distribution rights for the world, outside of Asia and French speaking Europe, to the martial arts, film noir epic DRAGON (WU XIA).  TF1 are already confirmed to distribute the film in France.  The film will have its world premiere as part of the official selection at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.  A 2011 theatrical release is expected in the US.

Director, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, is one of Asia’s most celebrated filmmakers, his critical and box office hits include award winning THE WARLORDS, which he produced and directed, and BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS, which he produced.  With DRAGON (WU XIA) Chan brings to the screen an action-packed tale of crime, family and redemption.

DRAGON (WU XIA) features a dynamic ensemble of internationally celebrated talent, led by action superstar Donnie Yen (BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS, IP MAN), a martial arts master, Yen is also the film’s action choreographer; Takeshi Kaneshiro (HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, CHUNGKING EXPRESS) and Tang Wei (LUST, CAUTION, LATE AUTUMN).  The film marks the first film appearance in 17 years of the legendary Jimmy Wang Yu (ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN, THE CHINESE BOXER), who is widely credited as the first Hong Kong kung fu star.

Along with Chan, the stellar lineup behind the camera includes the rising young director of photography Jake Pollock (THE MESSAGE, MONGA), veteran director of photography Lai Yiu-Fai (INFERNAL AFFAIRS, 2046); legendary Hong Kong production designer Yee Chung Man (THE WARLORDS, CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER); and leading costume designer Dora Ng (BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS, LEGEND OF THE FIST: THE RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN).
TWC has also acquired first option to remake rights for the film.

The announcement was made by TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and Vice President of Acquisitions Dan Guando.

Said Chan, “During the production, Donnie was telling me that Wu Xia becomes more and more like a Weinstein movie. It’s no coincidence that Harvey likes the film. I am thrilled to work with Harvey and I think TWC is the best company to take this film to the US and international audience.”

Said Weinstein, “Peter Chan is a true artist and with WU XIA he has created a dream project, combining two of my favorite genres: film noir and martial arts.  Peter has been a friend for more than 10 years I could not be happier to be working with him on this film.”

Said Guando, “From the moment the film was announced, TWC has been excited about WU XIA.  It is set to be a martial arts classic that will redefine the genre.”

The deal was negotiated for TWC by Guando, Laine Kline, Executive Vice President Business and Legal Affairs, and Michal Steinberg, Senior Vice President Business Affairs and Acquisitions; and for WE Distribution by Katherine Lee, Executive Vice President.

In the late Qing Dynasty, Liu (Donnie Yen) is a papermaker, leading a simple life with his wife Ayu (Tang Wei) and their two sons.  Into their remote village comes Detective Xu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), who is investigating the deaths of two bandits during a robbery.  Xu quickly realizes that the incident in question was no ordinary botched robbery – and his dogged inquiry threatens to dredge up the dark secrets of Liu’s buried past, threatening not only Liu and his family, but the entire village.

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