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MGM Snags Sean Penn’s Cannes Title ‘Flag Day’

The market at Cannes is heating up.

Dylan Penn stars as Jennifer Vogel in FLAG DAYA Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures filmPhoto credit: Allen Fraser© 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Dylan Penn stars as Jennifer Vogel in Sean Penn’s “Flag Day”

Allen Fraser

MGM has acquired one of the hot Cannes Film Festival acquisitions titles, director Sean Penn’s father-daughter coming-of-age drama “Flag Day,” marking the lead film debut of his daughter Dylan Penn (“Elvis & Nixon”), which will have its world premiere on the Croisette. (Check out our full list of 2021 Cannes acquisitions here.)

Thirty years ago, Cannes veteran Penn premiered his first film as a director, MGM’s “The Indian Runner,” in 1991, and has continued to bring his films to the festival throughout, from Best Actor-winning “She’s So Lovely” to eventual Oscar-winner “Mystic River” and “The Last Face.” He also served as the president of the jury in 2008.

Playwright and screenwriter Jez Butterworth (“Edge of Tomorrow”) adapted Jennifer Vogel’s 2005 memoir “Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life.” “Hearing the love and enthusiasm that Mike and his team at MGM have for bringing the movie to audiences was especially gratifying for the amazing good karma it represents,” said producers Bill Horberg and Jon Kilik. “He was the first person we spoke to about developing the book with Jez as a movie for Sean Penn many moons ago. Dreams do come true.”

“We were immediately captivated by Sean’s film,” said MGM executives Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy. “The outstanding performances from the entire cast, lead of course by Dylan and Sean, Jennifer’s incredible life story, and the great care the entire filmmaking team took in bringing this true tale to the big screen after many years of willing it to be told. We are immensely proud to share this beautiful film with moviegoing audiences.”

“I’m particularly grateful that our film has been embraced by MGM,” said Penn. “Mike DeLuca and his team are among the last true believers that, along with the advent of streaming, there remains a theatrical value to character driven films. I’ve known and admired Mike for many years, and there’s no one I’d rather throw the dice with.”

“Flag Day” also stars Josh Brolin (“Dune”), Norbert Leo Butz (“Fosse/Verdon”), Dale Dickey (“Hell or High Water”), Eddie Marsan (“Ray Donovan”), Bailey Noble (“True Blood”), Hopper Jack Penn (“War Machine”), and Katheryn Winnick (“Big Sky”). The film is produced by William Horberg, p.g.a. (“The Queen’s Gambit”), Jon Kilik, p.g.a.  (“Da 5 Bloods”), and Fernando Sulichin, p.g.a. (“Snowden”), and features original songs by Cat Power, Eddie Vedder, and Glen Hansard.

So far buyers are scooping up available Cannes titles, including IFC Films, which acquired Paul Verhoeven’s lesbian nun drama “Benedetta” and Mia Hansen-love’s “Bergman Island,” and A24, which bought Sean Baker’s “Red Rocket.”

MGM’s distribution and marketing joint venture United Artists Releasing will add the film to its already bulging 2021 release slate, including Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” (August 13), starring Jennifer Hudson, “The Addams Family 2” (October 1), starring  Chloë Grace Moretz, Charlize Theron, and Oscar Isaac, the latest James Bond film “No Time to Die” (October 8), starring Daniel Craig, Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci”(November 26), starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, the untitled Paul Thomas Anderson movie (November 26) and Joe Wright’s stage musical-to-film “Cyrano” (December 24), starring Haley Bennett, Ben Mendelsohn, and Peter Dinklage.

After 2021, assuming the Amazon acquisition of MGM goes through, will likely bring a new approach to movie distribution.

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