The Weinstein Company came to Cannes ready to show off with films like “Only God Forgives” (via VOD shingle RADiUS), “The Immigrant” and “Fruitvale Station” in tow, not to mention a big presentation of material including peeks at biopics “Grace of Monaco” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”. There were rumblings that footage from Judi Dench starrer “Philomena” at the film market had revved the distributors engines, and indeed, today TWC has announced acquisition of the title in the US, UK and Spain and positioned it in the fall of 2013, obviously aiming for an awards trajectory.
The film, directed by Stephen Frears, is based on the 2009 novel “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee.” It tells the true story of an Irish woman’s 50-year search for the illegitimate son that was whisked away from her by the church as an infant and sold to America for adoption. Seven minutes of the film was shown to buyers last week and TWC outbid all comers. Judi Dench stars in the film, along with Steve Coogan (also a co-writer), Tracey Seward and Gabriella Tana.
“I am delighted to be working again with my dear friends Judi Dench and Stephen Frears, blurbed Weinstein via press release. “We have had great successes in the past together and I have always enjoyed the collaboration. ‘Philomena’ is a brilliant project and we are excited to bring it to theaters this fall.”
Indeed, Frears and Dench have seen their share of success in the awards season under Harvey Weinstein’s watch. In the Miramax days, Dench received Best Actress nominations for 1997’s “Mrs. Brown” and 2001’s “Iris.” She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love” in 1998 and received another nomination in the category for 2000’s “Chocolat.” When Weinstein struck out on his Weinstein Company venture, one of the first awards successes was “Mrs. Henderson Presents” in 2005, which landed Dench another lead actress nomination and was directed by, you guessed it, Stephen Frears.
Frears was nominated in the Best Director category for 1990’s “The Grifters” at Miramax and the year after the Weinsteins left the company in 2006, his film “The Queen” managed a slew of nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Obviously, the pair have a long, healthy history with Weinstein.
Last year Dench was nominated for a handful of awards for her performance in “Skyfall,” including a BAFTA.
“Philomena” is set for release this year amid an already healthy slate of players, from “August: Osage County” to “The Butler,” to the above-mentioned “Fruitvale Station,” “Grace of Monaco,” “The Immigrant,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and “Only God Forgives,” not to mention the documentary “Salinger.” It promises to be another busy fall for The Weinstein Company.