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A24 is closing a deal to acquire U.S. rights to sci-fi love story Equals.
Equals, which stars Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, first screened at the Venice International Film Festival, but the deal-making kicked off after the North American premiere at TIFF on Sept. 13.
Drake Doremus, whose film Like Crazy won Sundance’s grand jury prize, helmed Equals, which tells the story of Nia (Stewart) and Silas (Hoult), co-workers in a utopian future where human emotion has been genetically eliminated. When there is word that a disease has broken out that causes the remanifestation of emotion, Silas and Nia are confirmed to have the disease. The two must then decide to stay in their current reality, with the possibility of being found out and promptly dealt with, or to run away toward their possible freedom. Nathan Parker wrote the screenplay.
After Equals’ TIFF premiere, several buyers aggressively pursued the project including A24 and Sony Pictures Classics, among others.
The film also stars Guy Pearce and Jacki Weaver. Route One Entertainment financed along with Freedom Media and Surefire Entertainment Capital. Scott Free’s Michael Schaefer and Michael Pruss, Ann Ruark, Jay Stern and Chip Diggins produced. Scott Free’s Ridley Scott, Route One’s Russell Levine, Lee Jae Woo and Choi Pyung Ho executive produced.
UTA Independent Film Group repped domestic rights, while Mister Smith Entertainment handled international.
Unlike The Hunger Games and Divergent, however, Equals is less interested in the machinations of its plot than it is in the beating hearts of its characters. That is largely thanks to director Drake Doremus, best known for his indie romantic dramas Like Crazy and Breathe In. In an interview with BuzzFeed News at TIFF, Doremus and Stewart discussed the relative importance of privacy, how much we mask our own emotions in real life, and how the film’s unusual rehearsal process helped connect the actors not just to their characters’ emotional lives, but to their own as well.
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During Stewart’s sit-down, she gamely discussed how personal heartbreak informed her performance in Equals, the sci-fi romance she and co-star Nicholas Hoult screened in Canada. The actress also opened up about why she thinks she’s been able to segue her career as a child actress into adulthood; why she would make a great personal assistant; and the person who didn’t think she’d make acting-award history by winning the César for her work in Clouds of Sils Maria.
Just when most French distributors are either too cash-strapped or cautious to continue picking up U.S. indies, Jean-Philippe Tirel’s company is staying active, targeting few high-profile U.S. projects at script stage, such as “Nightcrawler.”
Selective Films also recently acquired “The Riot Club” (with Orange/Paramount) and “The Coup” (with SND).
Tirel and Selective Films partner Maya Hariri are attending the AFM with acquisition and marketing topper Romain Daubeach and is in discussions on four more titles.
Under its deal with Orange Studio, the film co-production and co-distribution arm of the telco company, “Equals” will be released in France by Paramount in late 2015 or early 2016.
Repped by Mister Smith Entertainment, the movie began shooting in Japan and Singapore in August. Ridley Scott’s Scott Free is producing with Route One.
On Sunday, she rode back to Toronto for yet her latest fest offering: the dystopian romantic drama “Equals,” directed by indie darling Drake Doremus and co-starring Nicholas Hoult.
Appearing thin in a leather jacket and an abundance of rings in a lounge space surrounded by foosball and rod hockey, Stewart waved aside the idea that she had embarked on a new chapter after five “Twilight Saga” films, the last of which came out in 2012.
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