Music biopics ‘Dalida’ and ‘Django’ land US releases – Alan Arkin joins Tim Burton’s live action ‘Dumbo’

LOS ANGELES, Aug 20, (RTRS): Two music biopics get domestic distribution and Harvey Weinstein launches an animated films label.

Under the Milky Way has acquired US domestic theatrical rights to the music biopics “Dalida” and “Django”, Variety has learned exclusively.

“Dalida”, directed by Lisa Azuelos, will open in the fall. The film stars Sveva Alviti as the Egyptian-born Italian singer who became one of France’s biggest pop stars from the 1950s to the 1980s. Recording in more than five languages, Dalida sold a record-breaking 170 million albums during her lifetime. Riccardo Scamarcio, Jean-Paul Rouve, and Nicolas Duvauchelle also star.

“Django”, meanwhile, launches early next year. Directed by Etienne Comar, the film stars Reda Kateb as gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, with Cecile de France playing his muse. The movie, which opened this year’s Berlin Film Festival, is set in 1943 Paris amid the occupation by Nazis, who oppose his “hot jazz” as being degenerate.

Under the Milky Way’s recent acquisitions include environmental documentary “Tomorrow”, thriller “Made in France” and comedy “What’s in a Name?” from France, and “Swim Little Fish Swim” and “The Student”.

Gravitas Ventures has acquired distribution rights to the horror-comedy “Mercy Christmas”, directed by Ryan Nelson from a script he co-wrote with Beth Levy Nelson, Variety has learned exclusively.

Gravitas plans a VOD release on Nov 28. The film stars Casey O’Keefe (“2 Broke Girls”), Cole Gleason (“My Crazy Ex”), David Ruprecht (“True Blood”), D.J. Hale (“Being Black Enough”), Gwen Van Dam (“New Girl”), and Steven Hubbell.

“Mercy Christmas” was produced by the Nelsons through their No Mercy Pictures in association with Other Paw Films and Tarquin Alexander.

The pic centers on a man who meets the perfect woman (played by O’Keefe). His Christmas dream comes true when she invites him to her family’s holiday celebration.

The Weinstein Company has launched the animated films label Mizchief to correspond with the debut of its upcoming movie “Leap!”


The film, voiced by Elle Fanning, Nat Wolff, Maddie Ziegler, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kate McKinnon, and Mel Brooks, will hit theaters nationwide Aug 25, with sneak previews screening throughout the country this weekend.

Mizchief’s second release will be “The Guardian Brothers”, TWC’s first production with Gary Wang and Life Chaser Animation Studios. The film features the voices of Meryl Streep, Mel brooks, Nicole Kidman, Edward Norton, Dan Fogler, and Bella Thorne.

The label is also in development on film adaptations of “The Firework-Makers Daughter”, based on the novel by Philip Pullman, and the George Selden children’s classic “The Cricket in Times Square”.

TWC plans to build its slate of animated films and will continue to release the titles under both The Weinstein Company and Mizchief labels.


LOS ANGELES: Alan Arkin has joined the cast of Disney’s live-action adaptation of “Dumbo” directed by Tim Burton.

The film’s cast already includes Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Michael Keaton, and Danny DeVito. Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins will also appear in their first film roles.

Ehren Kruger penned the script. Justin Springer, who worked on “Tron: Legacy”, is producing with Kruger. Nigel Gostelow will serve as an executive producer.

The original story followed an ostracized baby circus elephant who strives to achieve his full potential. In this version, the film follows Holt Farrier (Farrell), a former circus star who finds his life turned upside down when he returns from the war. Circus owner Max Medici (DeVito) enlists Holt to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when Holt’s children (Parker and Hobbins) discover that Dumbo can fly, persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Keaton) and an aerial artist named Colette Marchant (Green) swoop in to make the peculiar pachyderm a star. Arkin will play J Griffin Remington, a Wall Street tycoon.

The studio’s emphasis on live-action reboots follows the hits “Maleficent”, “Cinderella”, “The Jungle Book”, and most recently, “Beauty and the Beast”. The Mouse House has remakes of “The Lion King”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Mulan”, and other animated classics in the works as well.

An Oscar-winning actor, Arkin was most recently seen in New Line’s “Going in Style”.

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