The Weinstein Company and Anant Singh announced today the acquisition, by TWC, of the North American, Australian and New Zealand distribution rights to the film of Nelson Mandela's life based on his autobiography Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The film is directed by Justin Chadwick (The First Grader, The Other Boleyn Girl) and produced by Anant Singh.
Singh began communicating with Mandela about making a film based on his life while he was still in prison and acquired the film rights to Mandela's book at the time of its publication in 1996 and development on the film began immediately when Academy Award Nominee, writer William Nicholson (Les Miserables, Gladiator, Shadowlands) signed on. The completion of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom sees the culmination of Singh's most ambitious project to date.
On awarding the film rights to Singh, Mandela had this to say.
"Anant Singh is a producer I respect very much. Given the resources and backing, he will produce a work of the highest standards and excellence, and it is for that reason, I opted for him."
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, shot in South Africa, started principal photography at the end of May 2012 in KwaZulu-Natal and went on to shoot for 16 weeks at authentic locations in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Mandela's home province, the Eastern Cape with the shoot ending in mid-September 2012.
Commenting on the deal, Singh released the following statement.
"TWC is the best North American distributor for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and I am delighted to continue our association of over 20 years with Harvey, which began with Sarafina! and Cry, the Beloved Country and was followed by many other films. Harvey's passion for cinema and his track record of making enormous successes on films that have achieved critical and box office acclaim is world renowned. This is the perfect film for him with powerful performances, an epic scale and a true story of the world's most respected leader and elder statesman."
Here's what The Weinstein Company co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said in a statement.
"I am extremely passionate about Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Anant Singh first gave the book to me in 1994, when the first edition came out. We have been talking about making this film since 1999. There have been a number of stop and goes, but sometimes things work out for a reason, and Anant Singh has done a masterful job in producing this epic story of our times. Through Anant Singh and Robert De Niro, I met Nelson Mandela, and it was one of the best experiences of my life."
Golden Globe winner Idris Elba (Luther, The Wire, Prometheus, Pacific Rim) plays Mandela and Naomie Harris (Skyfall) his wife, Winnie Mandela. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom also features the finest of South Africa's acting talent among whom are Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva, Jamie Bartlett, Lindi Matshikiza, Deon Lotz and Terry Pheto.
The deal was negotiated in London by David Glasser and Michal Steinberg for The Weinstein Company and Anant Singh and Alan Grodin of Weintraub Tobin for Distant Horizon. Pathe has acquired the UK and French rights and is handling international sales.