The Wagner/Cuban Company's Magnet Releasing, genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, announced today that they have acquired US rights to The Last Days on Mars, a sci-fi thriller starring Liev Schreiber (Salt, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Elias Koteas (Shutter Island, Crash), Romola Garai (One Day, Atonement), Olivia Williams (An Education, The Sixth Sense), and Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey) from Focus Features International. Produced by Michael Kuhn and Andrea Cornwell, The Last Days on Mars is the feature film debut of Ruairi Robinson, an Academy Award-nominated director of several celebrated sci-fi short films and animations. Focus Features International handled worldwide sales on the film, which bowed in this year's Director's Fortnight selection at the Cannes International Film Festival, where Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times called it "undeniably gripping."
On the last day of the first manned mission to Mars, a crew member of Tantalus Base believes he has made an astounding discovery - fossilized evidence of bacterial life. Unwilling to let the relief crew claim all the glory, he disobeys orders to pack up and goes out on an unauthorized expedition to collect further samples. But a routine excavation turns to disaster when the porous ground collapses, and he falls into a deep crevice and near certain death. His devastated colleagues attempt to recover his body. However, when another vanishes they start to suspect that the life-form they have discovered is not yet dead. As the group begins to fall apart it seems their only hope is the imminent arrival of the relief ship Aurora.
Here's what Magnolia Picturs president Eamonn Bowles had to say about the project in a statement.
"With a terrific ensemble cast and top-notch production values, The Last Days on Mars is an exceedingly well-made and frightening science fiction film that will be a real pleasure for fans of the genre. Ruairi Robinson is a talented director to watch - we're very excited to be working with him on this film."
Alison Thompson, Co-President of Focus Features International, also released the following statement.
"After a successful Cannes premiere, we're delighted to have Magnet on board. They are a perfect fit for the film and we have no doubt they will do an excellent job of ensuring that US audiences embrace this exciting new filmmaker."
Magnet is eyeing a release through its Ultra VOD program later this year. The film was negotiated by Magnolia/Magnet SVP of Acquisitions Dori Begley and Director of Acquisitions Peter Van Steemburg with Focus Features International.