RAI Cinema Swoops on Ron Howard Thriller ‘Origin of Species’ at Cannes

Italy’s RAI Cinema, which has four titles in this year’s Cannes selection, has closed a deal on Ron Howard’s next movie “Origin of Species,” a hot project at the Cannes market starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, Ana de Armas, Jude Law and Alicia Vikander.

RAI Cinema chief Paolo Del Brocco said the company – which is the film arm of Italian state broadcaster RAI – has teamed up with Rome-based Lucisano Media Group to acquire Italian rights from CAA Media Finance on Howard’s survival thriller penned by Noah Pink (“Tetris”) about a a group of eclectics who turn their backs on civilization and head to the Galapagos.

In Cannes, RAI Cinema also picked up Italian rights from Gaumont on family movie “Moon The Panda,” by French humans and animals adventures specialist Gilles de Maistre, known for “Mia and the White Lion” and “The Wolf and the Lion.” De Maistre’s latest, about the friendship between a boy and a panda, is set to shoot later this month in China’s Sichuan mountains.

Speaking to Variety, Del Brocco said he was particularly proud that RAI Cinema co-produced, and will be locally distributing, the three Italian films competing in Cannes: Nanni Moretti’s “A Brighter Tomorrow,” Marco Bellocchio’s “Kidnapped,” and Alice Rohrwacher’s “La Chimera.” “For us it’s huge that we are bringing so much Italian cinema – and such diverse works – to Cannes,” he said.

But Del Brocco is also pleased that Italy will have the distinction of being the only country in the world where Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” will not be going out theatrically through Paramount. Instead, Scorsese’s latest will be released in Italian movie theaters on Oct. 19 by RAI Cinema’s 01 Distribution unit. That’s because Leone Film Group and RAI Cinema jointly acquired Italian rights to the period thriller early on from Imperative Entertainment when Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio were still in the early stages of development on “Killers” together with Imperative co-founders Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas.

Other titles on RAI Cinema’s vast slate with strong international elements comprise Uberto Pasolini’s “The Return,” a gritty retelling of Odysseus’ return home from war that reunites “The English Patient” co-stars Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes and which recently started shooting in Greece; Piero Messina’s English-language science fiction film “Another End,” starring Gael García Bernal and Renate Reinsve (“The Worse Person in the World”); and Saverio Costanzo’s “Finalmente L’alba” in Which Lily James Plays a 1950s Hollywood star at Cinecittà and which is strongly tipped to launch from the Venice Film Festival in September.

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