The Weinstein Company has acquired domestic distribution rights to “The Butler,” Lee Daniels’ upcoming film about a black man who served as a butler for eight different presidents, the studio announced on Monday.
Oscar winner Forest Whitaker stars as the butler, who worked in the White House for more than 30 years under presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
The tale first surfaced in a Washington Post article, which Danny Strong and Daniels adapted for the screen. Daniels is shooting the film in New Orleans, and the Weinsteins bought the project based off its script and cast.
“Lee tells stories in a way no one else does,” TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said in a statement, “What struck me most about this story is the perspective it comes from, which in this case is the butler — a man who was a fly on the wall for decades in the world’s most powerful home. It takes an unbelievable cast like the one that’s in place to do this story justice, and we are proud to be given the chance to share this story with the world.”
The film marks Daniels' next film after "The Paperboy," a campy southern gothic tale which debuted at Cannes and was received with a mix of astonishment and horror.
"The Butler" boasts an all-star cast that boasts not just Whitaker but also Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Melissa Leo, James Marsden, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Robin Williams and Liev Schreiber.
Pamela Oas Williams, Buddy Patrick, Cassian Elwes and the late Laura Ziskin are producing the project for Ziskin's eponymous company.
“What moves me most about this man is his quiet nature, grace and unmatched perspective that comes from being in one place – a very powerful one – during what was arguably the period in American history that saw the most change,” Daniels said in a statement.
The film marks Daniels' first project following "The Paperboy." IM Global sold the international rights at Cannes to a variety of distributors, including Metropolitan in France, Aurum in Spain and eOne in Benelux.