Robert Redford, Saoirse Ronan, Nick Hornby Movies Rack Up Sales for Rocket Science (EXCLUSIVE)

Leo Barraclough
Variety

Rocket Science, the new movie company headed by former Hanway Films chief Thorsten Schumacher, has closed multiple international sales deals on its American Film Market slate, including the adaptation of Nick Hornby’s romantic comedy “Juliet, Naked,” crime caper “The Old Man and the Gun” with Robert Redford and Casey Affleck, and Saoirse Ronan-starrer “On Chesil Beach.”

Among the territories taking “Juliet, Naked” were Australia (Village Roadshow), Germany (Prokino), Greece (Odeon), Latin America (Sun), the Middle East (Frontrow), Israel (Forum), Poland (Kinoswiat), Scandinavia (Scanbox), South Africa (Ster Kinekor), South Korea (Activers), Spain (Sun), Switzerland (Monopole Pathe), and ex-Yugoslavia (Discovery).

Sales deals on David Lowery’s “The Old Man and the Gun” included Canada (VVS), France (Europacorp), Germany (DCM), Israel (Forum), Greece (Odeon), Italy (BIM), Latin America (Swen), the Middle East (Frontrow), Scandinavia (Scanbox), South Africa (Ster Kinekor), and Spain (Vertigo).

Following an initial sale to Lionsgate for U.K. rights, “On Chesil Beach” added deals for multiple territories including Australia (Transmission), Canada (Elevation), France (Mars), Greece (Odeon), Israel (LEV), Italy (Cinema), Japan (Tohokushinsha), Latin America (Swen), the Middle East (Frontrow), Korea (BMK), and South Africa (Ster Kinekor). In-flight rights went to Jaguar.

Schumacher said: “Our first market has been a positive indicator of things to come for the films and for Rocket Science, with a pack of global deals on our flagship titles already secured. We are excited to continue making our mark on the industry and look forward to the year ahead.”

“Juliet, Naked” tells the story of Annie (Rosie Byrne), the long-suffering girlfriend of Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), and her unlikely transatlantic romance with once-revered singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), who also happens to be the subject of Duncan’s musical obsession.

“With Annie torn between the life she knows and taking a risk on an eccentric rock star, ‘Juliet, Naked’ plays out through a series of entertaining and serendipitous events, as a funny and moving account on life’s second chances,” according to a statement.

Hornby’s novel was a critical hit on both sides of the Atlantic, with the Wall Street Journal hailing the work as “rich and perceptive,” and the Guardian praising it as “achingly real.”

Based on a 2003 New Yorker article by David Grann, “The Old Man and the Gun” tells the true story of Forrest Tucker (Redford), an outlaw with 18 successful prison breaks and a lifetime of bank robberies to his name. “The screenplay, which Lowery has written, retraces Forrest’s twilight years, from his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounds authorities and enchants the public,” Rocket Science said. “Wrapped up in this chase are a detective (Affleck) who becomes captivated with Forrest’s commitment to his craft and a woman who loves him in spite of his chosen profession.”

Set in England in 1962, “On Chesil Beach,” based on the novel by Ian McEwan, stars Ronan (“Brooklyn,” “Atonement”) and Billy Howle (“The Sense of an Ending,” “The Seagull”) in the lead roles of Florence Ponting and Edward Mayhew, and will be directed by Dominic Cooke (“The Hollow Crown”).

“From the precise depiction of two young lovers, to the touching story of how their unexpressed misunderstandings and fears shape the rest of their lives, ‘On Chesil Beach’ is a tender story that shows how the entire course of a life can be changed — by a gesture not made or a word not spoken,” the company said.

The project has been developed by Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley’s Number 9 Films, in conjunction with BBC Films. The film is in production.

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