Alejandro Amenábar’s “Agora,” which first screened back at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, has been acquired for U.S. release by Newmarket Films in its first acquisition since the company was acquired this month by EMG. The film was written by Amenábar and Mateo Gil, and stars Rachel Weisz, Oscar Isaac and Max Minghella. It held its North American premiere in September at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Newmarket will release the film in the first half of 2010.
“Alejandro Amenábar has crafted a film that not only offers a visual spectacle but also deals with religious intolerance in a way that makes this film feel modern and relevant even though it is set centuries ago,” said Exclusive Media Group (EMG) Co-Chairmen Chris Ball in a statement. “We are proud to be the ones taking this film to US audiences who will find that this film offers epic storytelling at its finest.”
The deal was negotiated by Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers and by Ball on behalf of Newmarket. “Agora” was produced by MOD Productions, Himenoptero and Telecinco Cinema, with the participation of Canal + Spain.
Set in ancient Egypt under Roman rule, “Agora” follows the brilliant and beautiful astronomer Hypatia (Weisz) who leads a group of disciples fighting to save the wisdom of the Ancient World, as violent religious upheaval spills into the streets of Alexandria. Among these disciples are two men competing for her heart: the witty, privileged Orestes (Isaac) and Davus (Minghella), Hypatia’s young slave, who is torn between his secret love for her and the freedom he knows can be his if he chooses to join the unstoppable surge of the Christians.
The film scored Spain’s highest opening of the year so far, grossing $7.9 million in its first three days, and has remained atop the Spanish box office for four weeks now.