Magnolia Pictures has announced its deal for North American rights to "District 13" ("Banlieue 13") written by Luc Besson and directed by Pierre Morel. The film, which debuted earlier this year at the Seattle International Film Festival and later screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, is set in a Parisian ghetto in 2010, the action film is the story of an undercover cop and a former hood who are trying to infiltrate a gang leader's militia to defuse a neutron bomb.
The film has been a hit in its native France where it has already seen more than 1 million theatrical admissions fueled by the popularity of the urban freestyle sport known as parkour, which involves participants quickly and fluidly attempting to surmount physical obstacles. Parkour co-founder David Belle stars in the film.
"Luc Besson and Pierre Morel have mounted an absolutely breathtaking thrill ride and stars David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli pull of some of the most amazing stunts I've ever seen," said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles in a statement. "This film will be a complete revelation for action fans."
In a brief conversation with indieWIRE on Wednesday, Bowles said that the film will open in the Spring of next year in about twenty markets. He said the film will play in all major markets in the country, expanding based on the performance of the film. The new Magnolia Home Entertainment division will release the film on home video/DVD after the theatrical run.
Magnolia's head of acquisitions Tom Quinn and head of business and legal affairs Jason Janego, as well as companyu president Eamonn Bowles, negotiated the deal with Gregoire Melin, EuropaCorp's Head of International. The companies previous worked together on the deal for Prachya Pinkaew's "Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior."
Upcoming Magnolia releases include Roger Donaldson's "The World's Fastest Indian," starring Anthony Hopkins, which the company says it will push for Oscar consideration in the best actor category.
[EDITORS NOTE: This story was updated to note that the film premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival.]