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China’s Bliss Media, Maven Pictures to Finance Halle Berry’s L.A. Riots Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 12/15/2016 Dave McNary
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China’s Bliss Media and Maven Pictures have come on board to finance “Kings,” the independent drama set against the backdrop of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Halle Berry and Daniel Craig have been attached to star since June. Lamar Johnson (“The Next Step”), Kaalan Walker, and Rachel Hilson (“The Good Wife,” “The Affair”) are joining the cast.

Deniz Gamze Erguven, director of “Mustang,” is helming “Kings” from her own script in what will be her English-language debut. Production will begin Dec. 27 in Los Angeles.

Erguven is re-teamed with “Mustang” producer Charles Gillibert. He’s producing and co-financing through his CG Cinema. Maven Pictures co-founders Trudie Styler, Celine Rattray, and Charlotte Ubben serve as executive producers alongside Wei Han of Bliss Media.

IMR is handling international sales and CAA, which arranged the film’s financing, represents the movie’s domestic rights. Bliss Media owns the distribution rights for Greater China. “Kings” is also co-produced by Canal Plus, France 2 Cinema and Ad Vitam in France, and by Scope Pictures in Belgium.

“Kings” centers on a foster family in South Central in 1992, a few weeks before the city erupts in violence following the verdict of the Rodney King trial. Erguven began working on the screenplay in 2004 and has spent years working with the South Central neighborhood.

Craig will portray a loner who lives in South Central Los Angeles and falls in love with Berry’s character. When the riots erupt, he will help Berry in protecting her children from the violence.

“‘Kings’ is such a powerful read. Its elegant simplicity, coupled with Deniz’ vision, make it the perfect kind of project that Bliss Media would like to be a part of,” said Bliss Media’s Wei Han.

Bliss Media most recently wrapped production in Shanghai on “S.M.A.R.T. Chase,” starring Orlando Bloom. Bliss co-financed and executive produced Pablo Larraín’s “Jackie,” starring Natalie Portman, and acquired the Chinese distribution rights to Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” which was released in China on Dec. 8 and set a box office record for imported war films in China.

“Maven Pictures’ mission is to support films with women in front and behind the camera,” said Maven Pictures’ Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler. “Deniz is an extraordinary talent, and we look forward to being part of such an incredible project.”

Maven’s credits include “The Kids Are All Right” and “American Honey.” Maven is partnered with Jessica Chastain in her production company Freckle Films, and is heading to Sundance with “Novitiate,” starring Margaret Qualley and Melissa Leo.

CG Cinema’s credits include “Clouds of Sils Maria” by Olivier Assayas; “Eden” by Mia Hansen-Love”; “Personal Shopper,” which won the best director award at the 2016 Cannes festival for Assayas; and “Mustang” which won four awards at the French Cesars and was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign film.

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