Luke Evans, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde and Michael Smiley are set to star in Ben Wheatley’s action movie “Free Fire,” which will be the director’s first film set in the U.S., it was announced Friday.
Protagonist Pictures is launching pre-sales at AFM for the movie, which has a $10 million budget.
Set in Bostin in 1978, story chronicles an arms deal that goes wrong and turns into a shootout. Wilde plays Justine, a woman who has brokered a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen (Murphy, Smiley) and a gang led by Hammer and Evans who are selling them a stash of guns. But when shots are fired in the handover, a heart-stopping game of survival ensues.
Andy Starke will produce for his and Wheatley’s Rook Films, with Film4 on board as one of the financiers. Production will begin in the spring. Studiocanal, which has a long history with Wheatley, has acquired rights for the UK. Domestic rights are repped by WME.
“The idea for ‘Free Fire’ came from my love of hard boiled crime movies; from ‘The Asphalt Jungle,’ ‘The Big Sleep,’ ‘The Killing’ and ‘The Big Combo’ through ‘The Driver,’ ‘Le Samourai’ and ‘The French Connection,’ to the modern cycle of ‘Goodfellas,’ ‘Casino,’ ‘Hard Boiled’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ ‘Free Fire’ will take you and stick you in the middle of the action. I want the film to have the stylish, no nonsense feel that you get in Peckinpah’s ‘The Getaway.’ It’s a modern ’70s movie. Muscular, tough and spare,” said Wheatley.
Wheatley is currently in post on his adaptation of JG Ballard’s “High-Rise,” which stars Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Evans. He rose to prominence as one of the UK’s most distinctive directors with “Down Terrace” (2009), “Kill List” (2011), “Sightseers” (2012) and “A Field In England” (2013). He recently directed the first two episodes of “Dr. Who” starring Peter Capaldi as the famed Time Lord.
“The notion of Ben Wheatley making a hard-boiled American ’70s crime movie is just too exciting for words,” said Protagonist CEO Mike Goodridge. “We can’t wait for buyers to read it.”