A major deal has been brokered at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival, with Fox Searchlight picking up the U.S. distribution rights to JACKIE starring Natalie Portman. The film has been garnering critical praise since it’s begun making its rounds on the festival circuit, with many saying it’s Portman’s best role to date and a lock for a Best Actress nomination.
The film, directed by Pablo Larraín and written by Noah Oppenheim (who won Best Screenplay at Venice), follows the former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (Portman) after the events of the assassination of her husband and President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. The film also stars Peter Sarsgaard as Robert Kennedy and John Carroll Lynch as Lyndon B. Johnson.
Searchlight has been attached to the project for some time before this. When Darren Aronofsky was set to direct an earlier version of the film, Searchlight was already in talks to distribute the film. Reports say part of this deal is because Searchlight wants another film in the awards race if the controversy surrounding The Birth of a Nation, which Searchlight purchased for an unheard of $17.5 million after Sundance, ends up discrediting the Nate Parker picture.
Other interested buyers included Netflix, Amazon Studios, and EuropaCorp, although there was some hesitation about Larraín art-house style connecting with audiences. That will be proven one way or the other when the film is released on December 9.
Previously, Searchlight has released films like Brooklyn (which was an Oscar contender earlier in the year), He Named Me Malala, and A Bigger Splash. Upcoming, they’ll also be distributing the films Battle of the Sexes, Table 19, and Gifted.
Anya Crittenton | Associate Editor