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CBS Films Acquires ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’; Myriad Buys ‘Knife Fight’

Written by on September 11, 2011 

Considering that Salmon Fishing in the Yemen stars Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, wouldn’t it be stranger if it didn’t get picked up? Well, it’s found a home with CBS Films, as THR tells us that the company has acquired the Lasse Halström comedy for distribution — and at a hefty price of $4-to-5 million. After premiering last night to mixed reviews, a bidding war started over the film that centers on a fish scientist asked by an Arab Sheik “to do the seemingly impossible – introduce British salmon to the wadis of the Yemen.”

Based on the novel by Paul Torday, it’s scripted by Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire writer Simon Beaufoy. It sounds like a wholly inoffensive (if concurrently forgettable) affair, but the cast has me interested enough, so I think I’ll be willing to check the film out whenever it hits.

Another Toronto acquisition has occurred with Myriad, who have purchased Knife Fight. Starring Rob Lowe, Julie Bowen, Jamie Chung, Carrie-Anne Moss, Eric McCormack, and Richard Schiff, it’s directed by Bill Guttentag, written by him and Chris Lehane; the latter was the former White House advisor to Bill Clinton and Press Secretary to Al Gore.

A political drama centered on “three political candidates running for public office,” it joins the ranks of something like George Clooney‘s The Ides of March, which also appeared at Toronto this year. You can read the full press release below (via Deadline):

Sunday, September 11, 2011, Toronto….. Myriad Pictures will handle sales outside North America for Academy® Award-winner Bill Guttentag’s political drama Knife Fight, starring Rob Lowe (“The West Wing”, “Parks & Recreation”, Breakaway), Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”, Horrible Bosses, “Boston Legal”), Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch, The Hangover, Part II), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix trilogy, Disturbia, Chocolat), Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace”, Textuality, “The New Adventures of Old Christine”) and Richard Schiff (“The West Wing”, Solitary Man, The Lost World: Jurassic Park). The screenplay was written by Guttentag and prominent political consultant Chris Lehane who as a White House advisor to President Bill Clinton earned the reputation as “Master of Disaster” and later served as Al Gore’s Press Secretary. This is Lehane’s first feature film script.

The film follows three political candidates running for public office. Rob Lowe plays a hard-ball political crisis manager in the middle of the dirty campaigns whose clients are hip-deep in scandals involving drugs, sex, money and lies. Chung plays his smart administrative aid, and Bowen plays a hot shot reporter who sleeps her way to major news stories. The film is produced by Guerrino De Luca of delucafilms, and Daniel Dávila and Catherine Dávila of Davisidero Pictures (Splinters, Harrison Montgomery). The film completed principal photography earlier this year in San Francisco. Myriad Director of Development Ari Haas brought the project to Myriad. Haas and Catherine Davila attended graduate school at USC together.

Myriad Pictures CEO Kirk D’Amico shared his enthusiasm for the project. “”Knife Fight is a compelling satirical comedy which comes at the perfect time as we embark on an election year. Chris’ script is especially non-partisan in that it skewers politicians on both sides of the aisle. We are so pleased to be working on this film with the producers Guerrino De Luca, Daniel Davila and Catherine Davila and with Bill Guttentag as such a talented director and this extraordinary cast.””

Director Guttentag, commented on the timeliness of the story. “The film tells how modern political races are a blood sport where the campaign that wins is almost invariably the campaign that does the best job of mastering the dark arts of politics –- and in the end, all hotly contested races for political office become a knife fight in a telephone booth. All of us on Knife Fight are thrilled to be working with Myriad on this project as the election season heats up.”

Lehane added “There is keen interest around the world in American politics, and Knife Fight takes you into the back room to see what our political leaders are really made of and to explore a central tension in modern day U.S. politics: that the people who lead us are individuals with both extraordinary talents and extraordinary flaws that often lead them to the breaking of their promises.”

Myriad plans to create a trailer for the American Film Market in November. The film will be ready to screen for the early 2012 festival season.

Are you interested in either film? How do you feel about these companies acquiring them?

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