It seems that the recent "showdown" over the Colin Firth drama, A Single Man, at the Toronto International Film Festival has sparked more dealmaking (as predicted). Both the Woody Harrelson "superhero" flick, Defendor, and the Viking film, Valhalla Rising, have both had their rights acquired by major studios.
Sony is the one who's acquired the rights to Peter Stebbings' directorial debut, Defendor, which stars Woody Harrelsen as a man who thinks he's a superhero out to fight crime, with his mission being to take down the villain Captain Industry (who may or may not exist). The film co-stars Kat Dennings, Sandra Oh, Lisa Oh and Elias Koteas. For a seven figure sum, Sony has bought all of the distribution rights for the U.S., as well as most of Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Unfortunately, Variety notes in their article that Sony hasn't put any plans into place for a U.S. release of Defendor quite yet, but as /Film notes, they've just acquired the film and so we'll most likely see a theatrical commitment in the coming months.
I really liked the trailer for Defendor when it appeared at the beginning of this month: It looks to be a genuinely funny film with lots of heart and a heavy dose of fun. Woody Harrelson sure is doing well for himself as of late - along with Defendor, he also has the hilarious-looking Zombieland, Roland Emmerich's disaster flick, 2012, and The Messenger, co-starring Ben Foster. He's a real talented actor that I'm glad is getting his due.
Directed by Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (who directed the interesting if uneven Bronson), Valhalla Rising is set in the year 1,000 AD and is about a mute warrior called One-Eye (played by Casino Royale baddie, Mads Mikkilsen), who heads into the, "heart of darkness," after escaping from his captor, the Norse chieftain Barde. He ends up boarding a Viking vessel, "but the ship is soon engulfed by an endless fog that clears only as the crew sights an unknown land. As the new world reveals its secrets and the Vikings confront their terrible and bloody fate, One Eye discovers his true self."
The U.S. rights to Valhalla Rising were bought by IFC just days after the film was shown at TIFF (see Screen Rant guest writer John Foote's review from his coverage of the festival). Speaking extremely highly of the film and it director, IFC Entertainment President Jonathan Sehring had this to say:
"Nicolas Winding Refn knows film like no other director. He elevates genre to the realm of art and has established himself as one of the most audacious filmmakers working in Europe today. VALHALLA RISING is one of the most visceral and exciting films we've seen in a long time. We're absolutely thrilled to be in business with him and reunited with Nimbus Films."
I've had my eye out for this one for a while now, ever since I first read about it last year (I believe in Empire magazine). Even if Refn's previous film, Bronson, wasn't all that I'd hoped it would be, he showed a lot of flair and presented a radically different way of telling a real person's life story. I'm really looking forward to what he's done with Valhalla Rising and any of his future projects.
From John Foote's review, the Valhalla Rising sounds like it delivers on its potential; word tells of ferocious battle sequences, epic landscapes and a gritty, realistic feel. That's what pops out at me from reading the plot synopsis and seeing some of the images from it. I'm glad it measures up.
Are you glad both Defendor and Valhalla Rising have been picked up? Which of the two movies are you looking forward to most, and why?
As stated, Defendor doesn't have a planned release date as of yet, and Valhalla Rising is planned to be released sometime in 2010 (we'll keep you posted on exactly when).