In what is likely to become a must-have title at AFM, FilmNation will launch international pre-sales on The Island (working title) from auteur Pawel Pawlikowski to star Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara.
WME Independent represents US rights to the dramatic thriller, which is lined up for a 2023 shoot and is produced by Tanya Seghatchian and John Woodward for Apocalypso Pictures, and Brightstar.
Mario Gianani and Lorenzo Gangarossa are on board as co-producers for Wildside with Vision Distribution in collaboration with Sky. Ewa Puszczynska is co-producing for Extreme Emotions and Reno Antoniades is the executive producer.
Loosely based on a true story, the project follows an attractive American couple in the 1930s who turn their back on civilisation to build their own private paradise on a deserted island. Their dream doesn’t go as planned, however, when a millionaire passing by on his yacht inadvertently turns them into a tabloid newspaper sensation and a self-styled European countess arrives with her two lovers with plans to take over the island and build a luxury hotel.
Battle lines are drawn and psychological warfare ensues as seduction and jealousy descend into sexual infidelity, betrayal, and eventually murder at the same time as nature itself reveals its power.
Pawlikowski’s Ida won the Oscar in 2015 for what was then known as the best foreign language film and the filmmaker earned a directing nomination in 2019 for his most recent feature, Cold War. Phoenix won the lead actor Oscar in 2020 for Joker and will next be seen in the title role in Ridley Scott’s Napoleon. Mara has earned strong reviews for her role in Sarah Polley’s awards season contender Women Talking from Plan B and UA, and has garnered two Oscar nominations so far in her career for Carol and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
“Pawel is the master of strong drama and he’s unmatched at creating attractive but emotionally complex characters whose reach often exceeds their grasp – especially in matters of the heart,” said Seghatchian. “In The Island power struggles and love and death are all amplified by Pawel’s cinematic style, which will integrate the savage beauty of nature on this deserted island into the story. With a brilliant cast this murder-mystery, set in an epic landscape, will feel timeless – but its themes are contemporary, universal, and highly relatable.”
FilmNation CEO Glen Basner added, “Pawel Pawlikowski is one of the world’s greatest filmmakers working today. Pawel bringing this story of jealousy, betrayal and murder in a Garden of Eden is exactly what we all need to drive audiences back to the cinema.”