Relativity Media announced today that it has struck a deal with Lionsgate to acquire the North American distribution rights for Machine Gun Preacher, a fact-based thriller starring Gerard Butler and directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace). According to Relativity's press release, the film features a "tour de force" performance from Butler, and has thus been slapped with a September 23, 2011 release date -- prime awards-season territory. The effusive praise for Butler sounds a tad dubious, if only because the actor's recent oeuvre includes such Oscar kryptonite as The Bounty Hunter and The Awful Truth, but who am I to doubt a studio press release?
Machine Gun Preacher had been slated to languish on Lionsgate's shelf for the foreseeable future, with an approximate release date of "whenever we get around to it," as the studio focused on rolling out its glut of titles. In addition to Butler, the film stars Michelle Monaghan (Due Date), Kathy Baker (Cold Mountain), Michael Shannon (Superman: Man of Steel), Madeline Carroll (The Spy Next Door) and newcomer Souleymane Sy Savane (Goodbye Solo). It chronicles the true-life tale of Sam Childers, an American biker-gang member who found God, traveled to Sudan, and started an organization to aid victims of the Lord's Resistance Army, a para-military force infamous for its use of child soldiers.
Source: Relativity Media
Amreeka and Sin Nombre also made the list, which was announced in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning (01Dec09).
The Last Station, which chronicles the final days of Russian author Leo Tolstoy, and the acclaimed Precious scored the most nominations with five each.
Early Oscar favourite The Hurt Locker missed out on a nomination because it was selected last year (08).
Maria Bello (Downloading Nancy), Nisreen Faour (Amreeka), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Gywneth Paltrow (Two Lovers) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) will fight for the Best Female Lead prize, while the Best Male Lead honour will be contested by Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, ((500) Days of Summer) Souleymane Sy Savane (Goodbye Solo) and Adam Scott (The Vicious Kind).
Meanwhile, Ethan & Joel Coen (A Serious Man), Lee Daniels (Precious) and Michael Hoffman (The Last Station) lead the Best Director nominations list.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Food, Inc., More Than a Game, October Country and Which Way Home will battle for the Best Documentary honours, while A Prophet, An Education, Everlasting Moments, Mother and The Maid will compete for Best Foreign Film.
To be eligible for an Independent Spirit nod, all films must have been made for less than $20 million (£12.5 million). Films must have either screened at a major film festival including Sundance, Toronto or Film Independent’s own Los Angeles Film Festival or had a one-week engagement at a commercial theatre.
The awards will be handed out in Los Angeles on 5 March (10).
Kathryn Bigelow's hard-hitting war drama The Hurt Locker has emerged as an early Oscar favorite after picking up a string of nominations for the upcoming Gotham Independent Film Awards, one of the season's first big prizegivings.
The movie will be up against Amreeka, Big Fan, The Maid and A Serious Man in the Best Feature category, while star Jeremy Renner will fight for the Breakthrough Actor prize, and he and his castmates are up for Best Ensemble Performance.
Meanwhile, director Bigelow will be among the filmmakers and stars honored with tributes at the 19th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, held in New York on Nov. 30. Natalie Portman, Stanley Tucci and producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will also be presented with career tributes.
Meanwhile, Chris Rock's Good Hair will compete with Food, Inc., My Neighbor, My Killer, Paradise and Tyson for the Best Documentary prize, and Cruz Angeles (Don't Let Me Down), Frazer Bradshaw (Everything Strange and New), Noah Buschel (The Missing Person), Derick Martini (Lymelife) and Robert Siegel (Big Fan) will fight for the Breakthrough Director award.
Up against Renner in the Breakthrough Actor category are Ben Foster (The Messenger), comedian Patton Oswalt (Big Fan), Catalina Saavedra (The Maid) and Souleymane Sy Savane (Goodbye Solo).
Adventureland, Cold Souls, A Serious Man and Sugar will compete with The Hurt Locker for the Best Ensemble Performance honor.
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