'Machine Gun Preacher' gets new distributor, and Sept. 23 release date
Marc Forster may have brought Lionsgate an Academy Award with “Monster’s Ball,” but the studio says it can’t make room for the director’s new movie, “Machine Gun Preacher,” and has sold it to Relativity Media.
Lionsgate and Relativity said Thursday that Forster’s new film will switch studios, with Relativity scheduling the fact-based drama starring Gerard Butler for a limited release starting Sept. 23 in the hopes it might attract some awards attention.
Lionsgate, which released 2001’s “Monster’s Ball” (which won star Halle Berry the best actress Oscar), acquired the independently produced “Machine Gun Preacher” from financier Gary Safady last summer, with tentative plans for a fall 2011 release. The film stars Butler as Sam Childers, a former drug dealer who becomes a minister to refugee children in Sudan.
“We didn’t feel we could give it the attention it needed,” Mike Paseornek, Lionsgate’s president of motion picture production and development, said in explaining why it was selling the film to Relativity. “The slate was just packed." At least one other distributor looked at "Machine Gun Preacher" but did not buy it from Lionsgate.
Lionsgate does not currently have a film scheduled for release between Oct. 29 and the end of the year. But the studio is set to release six films in the next few months, including the mixed martial arts drama “Warrior” on Sept. 9. The studio also has several films set to debut in early 2012. Relativity's fall slate includes "Immortals" on Nov. 11.
Lionsgate will continue to handle “Machine Gun Preacher’s” international release. Said Paseornek: "We love the movie."
-- John Horn
Photo: Marc Forster. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times