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Paul, Mirren join Firth in thriller ‘Eye in the Sky’ Mackie set to play Hendrix in Parker’s ‘Jimi’

LOS ANGELES, May 19, (RTRS): Oscar winner Helen Mirren and Emmy winner Aaron Paul are set to join Colin Firth in Gavin Hood’s international thriller “Eye in the Sky,” it has been announced by Entertainment One and Raindog Films. A contemporary international thriller set in the shadowy world of remotely piloted “drone” warfare, “Eye in the Sky” will find Mirren playing Col. Michelle Madden, a military intelligence officer in command of a top secret drone operation. Paul will star as an American drone pilot, while Firth will co-star as a British government official. Firth and Ged Doherty are producing through their Raindog Films banner along with Xavier Marchand, who will oversee production for eOne in collaboration with Benedict Carver. Written by Guy Hibbert, “Eye in the Sky” is a tense morality tale that follows London-based Madden (Mirren), who’s set to remotely command a top secret drone operation to capture a group of dangerous terrorists from their safe-house in Nairobi, Kenya. The carefully planned mission suddenly escalates from a “capture” to a “kill” operation when Madden realizes that the terrorists are about to embark on a deadly suicide mission, which would result in the catastrophic deaths of many innocent civilians.

Meanwhile, American drone pilot Steve Watts (Paul) is poised to destroy the safe-house when a nine-year-old girl enters the kill zone just outside the walls of the targeted house. With unforeseen collateral damage now entering the equation and with the volatility of the situation increasing with every second that passes, Madden must now pass the mission’s authority up the “kill chain” to politicians and lawyers, including British Foreign secretary James Willett, who must weigh both the legality and morality of action and inaction. Active sales negotiations are already under way in Cannes, where eOne Films International is launching sales in the US and in all territories outside of the UK, Canada, Benelux, Spain, and Australia/New Zealand, where eOne will directly distribute the film. Production is expected to begin in South Africa on Sept 12, 2014.

Anthony Mackie is set to play Jimi Hendrix in a new incarnation of the long-gestating project “Jimi,” which was formerly known as “Crosstown Traffic,” TheWrap has learned. Ol Parker will direct from his own screenplay, which Paul Greengrass had once planned to direct with Mackie starring. The project fell apart in 2010 following objections from Hendrix’s estate over the script’s portrayal of the legendary rock star. Those concerns appear to have been addressed, as Parker himself will now step behind the camera. Parker’s wife, Thandie Newton, will co-star in the film, which chronicles the last nine days of Hendrix’s life. Noomi Rapace is being eyed for a supporting role, possibly as Hendrix’s former girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, who the closely resembles the Swedish actress. UTA, which represents rising star Mackie, is handling sales for the project, which is among the hottest being shopped at Cannes, though it remains unclear when production is expected to start.

Lionsgate has acquired North American rights to River Phoenix’s final film “Dark Blood” from Cinemavault and is planning a VOD release this year, it has been announced Friday at Cannes. George Sluizer (“The Vanishing”) co-wrote and directed the movie, which halted production following Phoenix’s death in 1993. Sluizer subsequently spent years battling to complete the film. In 1993, the insurance company behind the film attacked Phoenix for drug abuse. After losing the claim in 1998, it allegedly decided to destroy the negative of “Dark Blood,” but Sluizer managed to save the film and preserve the creative talent from being lost. In 2012, he was able to edit the film using the existing negative and finally give life to the unfinished movie “Dark Blood,” which co-stars Judy Davis (“Husbands and Wives”) and Jonathan Pryce (“Brazil”).

“Dark Blood” tells the story of Boy (Phoenix), a young widower who retreats to the desert after his wife dies of radiation following nuclear tests near their home. Boy is waiting for the end of the world and carves Katchina dolls that supposedly contain magical powers. Harry (Pryce) and Buffy (Davis) travel to the desert on a second honeymoon in an attempt to save their marriage. Their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and Boy rescues the couple. Haunted by the memories of his wife, Boy holds them prisoner because of his desire for the woman and his ambition to create a better world with her. “Dark Blood” screened at the Berlin Film Festival in 2013 and numerous festivals across the world. It’s currently in theaters in Japan under Culture Convenience Club, and scheduled to be released in Brazil with Esfera Filmes, South Korea with AUD Cinema, and in Turkey with Digiturk.

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