Cannes' jury president Robert De Niro is part of one of the first deals to be announced at this year's festival, with the recently-formed Open Road Pictures acquiring U.S. rights to "The Killer Elite," an action film directed by first-time director Gary McKendry and starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Yvonne Strahovski and De Niro.
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Open Road, a joint venture between the exhibition firms AMC Entertainment and the Regal Entertainment Group, headed by former Lionsgate and Weinstein executive Tom Ortenberg, announced the acqisition at Cannes on Wednesday but has reportedly been pursuing the film for months.
In the film, a special-ops agent played by Statham finds that onetime colleagues are being murdered, and is forced to reassemble his old team to rescue a former mentor played by De Niro (left, at a Melbourne press conference for the film). "The Killer Elite" was made by Omnilab Media and producer Michael Boughen and filmed in Australia.
Based on the novel "The Feather Men" by Ranulph Fiennes (second cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes), the film is not related to the 1975 Sam Peckinpah movie also titled "The Killer Elite."
Open Road plans an extensive, 2,000-theater release later this year.