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Cannes 2011: Weinstein Co. set to buy Shia LaBeouf's 'Wettest County in the World'

May 16, 2011 |  7:55 am

Harvey Weinstein's the Weinstein Co. is making another major buy at the Cannes Film Festival, closing a deal to acquire the Shia LaBeouf-Tom Hardy period dramatic thriller "The Wettest County in the World" for between $4 million and $5 million, according to a source familiar with the deal who asked not to be identified because the acquisition had not officially been announced.

The movie, which is directed by John Hillcoat ("The Road"), tells the story of sibling bootleggers (LaBeouf, Hardy and Gary Oldman) who during the Depression begin to exact revenge on those who threaten their business.

It's a rare period role for LaBeouf and also teams him with an actor whose stock has risen significantly since he starred in "Inception" last year. A Weinstein Co. spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Based on a book by Matt Bondurant, the film also stars  up-and-comers Mia Wasikowska ("Restless") and Jessica Chastain ("The Tree of Life"), both of whom have new films at Cannes. The script was written by singer-screenwriter Nick Cave, who previously collaborated with Hillcoat on a movie titled "The Proposal."

Though it's a period film, the source said the company would release the movie widely, hoping to capitalize on the thriller genre and the movie's star power.

Although the movie, which began shooting earlier this year, has not been completed, a promo reel shown to buyers stirred interest on the part of several major U.S. distributors. The Weinstein Co. appeared to emerge victorious as negotiations heated up Sunday evening, as seller Creative Artists Agency visited the Weinstein Co.'s apartment-complex offices on the Croisette to hammer out deal points and bottles of wine were ordered in, all as Weinstein Co.'s silent-film "The Artist" was set for its premiere.

The acquisition is Weinstein's third of the festival, as the company continues to flex its muscles after the fall and winter box-office success of "The King's Speech." It previously acquired Meryl Streep's Margaret Thatcher movie "Iron Lady" and in-competition crowdpleaser "The Artist," both of which are expected to be fall award-season contenders.

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-- Steven Zeitchik in Cannes, France

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