The Weinstein Company may have another Oscar darling on their hands. A year after grabbing $400 million worldwide and scads of major awards for “The King’s Speech,” The Brothers W paid $7 million for the domestic rights (via Deadline) to another film about British aristocracy, nabbing “The Iron Lady” starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. Producers only showed five minutes of the film before the bidding started between the Weinsteins, Summit and Relativity, though all someone had to say was “Streep as Thatcher” to ensure this would be a major purchase and, as planned by TWC, a high profile late ‘11 release. Expect it to be a big dog in the awards race.
Meanwhile, upstart distributor FilmDistrict is becoming a big player after scoring two bigger-than-expected hits, “Insidious” and “Soul Surfer” (the latter released in a partnership with Sony). They diversified their portfolio with two more Cannes purchases. They’ll do business with the always-shady Nu Image by grabbing the U.S. rights to “Playing the Field.” The comedy, about a former soccer-playing lothario who coaches his kid’s team, stars Gerard Butler, Uma Thurman, Judy Greer, Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid and Catherine Zeta-Jones, under the direction of Gabriele Muccino (“The Pursuit of Happyness”).
FilmDistrict also picked up the rights to the $60 million 3D fantasy “Arabian Nights.” Directed by genre vet Chuck Russell (“Eraser,” “The Mask”), ‘Nights’ has Liam Hemsworth attached as a “bold young commander” who crosses paths with Sinbad, Aladdin and the Genie to rescue the Princess Scheherazade (gesundheit). Anthony Hopkins was long attached to this property, though with no mention of him in the press release, perhaps he’s had his share of Hemsworth after fathering brother Chris in “Thor.”
In smaller, happier distribution news, IFC Films has stepped up (via Variety) to the plate for the domestic rights to “Something In the Air,” the latest from Olivier Assayas. The semi-autobiographical film follows an art school student in Paris in the early ’70s navigating his personal politics and artistic ambitions. The film begins shooting in June, and it continues a relationship with Assayas and IFC, who released both “Summer Hours” and “Carlos” stateside.