Awards season may still be several months away, but it seems that Sony is wasting no time in snatching up the distribution rights to one of the most hotly tipped potential contenders. Sony Pictures Classics have bought all rights in Eastern Europe, North America, Germany and the pay television rights in Asia for Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool which stars Annette Bening, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Walters and Jamie Bell. This comes a month before the film will premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
The film, which has been directed by Paul McGuigan (Victor Frankenstein), written by Matt Greenhalgh (Control) and was based on the memoir by British actor Peter Turner. According to Variety, the film follows a love affair between Turner (Bell) and Academy Award-winning actress Gloria Grahame (Bening) that eventually blossomed into a loving relationship. The film will take place in 1978 and, if it follows the memoir closely, will lead to Grahame’s dependence on Turner when she reached the terminal stage of her stomach cancer in 1981.
Barbara Broccoli and Colin Vaines produced the film and IM Global co-financed and launched the sale for the distribution rights at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. WME media is brokering the deal, according to Deadline. The film is financed by EON Productions and has been a pet project for Broccoli for years, who knew Turner and had met Grahame and is best known as the gatekeeper of the James Bond franchise.
As TIFF looms, expect to hear more about the acquisition for rights, both domestically and internationally, especially once certain films start getting critical praise or are anticipated. News of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’s distribution deal comes only a few days after Screen Daily announced that the UK distribution rights had been bought for Clio Barnard’s Dark River by Arrow Films. The deal was negotiated by Protagonist Pictures, who are handling sales on the title and is the third feature from director Clio Bernard (The Arbour, The Selfish Giant). It stars Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, and Sean Bean.
The film is loosely based on Rose Tremain’s novel Trespass and is the story of a woman who returns to her hometown for the first time in over a decade after the death of her father. It has been produced by Tracy O’Riordan of Moonspun Films and Lila Rawlings. Dark River is backed by Film4, the BFI, and Screen Yorkshire.
Roll in September, when the festival starts and the stream of news to come after more deals are brokered.