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Weinstein Company Takes Biopic ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,’ Starring Idris Elba: Oscar Fodder?

Weinstein Company Takes Biopic 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,' Starring Idris Elba: Oscar Fodder?

The Weinstein Company has acquired all North American, Australian and New Zealand distribution rights to the Nelson Mandela biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” The film stars Idris Elba (“Prometheus,” “The Wire”) in the title role of the former South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary, and Naomie Harris (“Skyfall”) as Mandela’s wife of 39 years, Winnie.

Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva, Jamie Bartlett, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Deon Lotz and Terry Pheto co-star.

The film is based on Mandela’s autobiography of the same title, and is directed by Justin Chadwick (“The First Grader,” “The Other Boleyn Girl”). Producer Anant Singh started communications with Mandela about a film based on his life while he was still in prison, and acquired film rights to the book at the time of its 1996 publication. The long-gestating project eventually signed Oscar nominee William Nicholson (“Les Miserables,” “Gladiator”) to pen the script.

“Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom” was shot on location in Cape Town, Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape in South Africa. It wrapped shooting in September 2012.

No word yet on US distribution plans. But presumably Harvey Weinstein is adding this project to his year-end Oscar playbook.

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