Lionsgate acquires 'Genius,' quietly amasses intriguing awards slate

Posted by · 9:31 am · May 13th, 2015

Another pick-up at the Cannes Film Festival for Lionsgate this morning was Michael Grandage's “Genius,” which feels like awards bait given the subject matter and the talent involved. The film tells the story of Scribner book editor Max Perkins, who oversaw works by legends like Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald in his time. The script, based on the book by A. Scott Berg, was written by three-time Oscar nominee John Logan (“Gladiator,” “The Aviator,” “Hugo”).

Colin Firth stars in the film as Perkins and there's a roll call of stars playing those top literary names. Jude Law is in as Wolfe, Guy Pearce is Fitzgerald and Dominic West is Hemingway. Nicole Kidman also stars as costume designer Aline Bernstein, who had a four-year relationship with Wolfe and possessed some of his unpublished manuscripts at the time of his death. Laura Linney, meanwhile, plays Perkins' wife, Louise Saunders.

No word yet on whether “Genius” will see a 2015 release, but if it does, Lionsgate will have put together – somewhat quietly – an interesting slate for the upcoming Oscar gauntlet. There is also Denis Villeneuve's Mexican cartel drama “Sicario,” playing in competition at Cannes, as well as Peter Sollett's “Freeheld.” The latter tells the true story of New Jersey police lieutenant Laurel Hester, who on her deathbed fought for (and won) the right to extend pension benefits to her domestic partner Stacie Andree. That story was captured in the Oscar-winning 2007 documentary short of the same name, you might recall. Julianne Moore and Ellen Page star as Hester and Andree respectively in the narrative treatment.

And, as reported earlier today, there is Gus Van Sant's “The Sea of Trees,” which the distributor is putting out through specialty shingle Roadside Attractions.

So, with all this – and assuming “Genius” does end up with a 2015 release – could Lionsgate be coming to the plate with more muscle than usual this season? It's quite possible.

More from the Cannes Film Festival as it happens.

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