Solstice Studios has acquired worldwide rights to the Gerard Butler action thriller “The Plane” on the heels of Lionsgate dropping out of distributing because producers were unable to obtain production insurance that would cover a COVID-19 outbreak.
Lionsgate boarded “The Plane” a year ago at the American Film Market, buying the rights to the film for North America, Latin America, the U.K. and India.
Solstice said Friday it is targeting a June 28, 2021, production start date. The producing team had originally planned to shoot the film in Malaysia last month, but opted against doing so when COVID cases spiked in the country. The filmmakers had been considering shooting in the Dominican Republic and in the U.S., but had not locked down a location, leading to Lionsgate deciding to back away from the project.
“The Plane” will be produced by Di Bonaventura Pictures’ Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian, MadRiver Pictures’ Marc Butan, and Butler and Alan Siegel under their G-BASE banner. This is the first of several projects to come from di Bonaventura and Solstice Studios, who will finance, distribute the film in the U.S. and handle international, including servicing the international distribution deals made by MadRiver International when the project was first announced at AFM.
Based on a story by Charles Cumming and Christian Gudegast, with a script by Cumming and J.P. Davis, and a recently revised draft by James Coyne, “The Plane” follows Butler’s commercial airline pilot, who heroically lands his storm-damaged aircraft on a remote jungle island in the Philippines, only to find himself stranded in a lawless war zone and the newfound target of ruthless pirates gunning to take the plane and its passengers hostage. As the world searches for the missing aircraft amid a growing media frenzy, the pilot must keep his passengers alive long enough to be found or to find a way out.
Butler is currently in production on “Cop Shop.” He’s attached to star in “Night Has Fallen,” the fourth iteration in the “Fallen” franchise, for Millennium Studios.
Solstice distinguished itself in August by become the first Hollywood studio to launch a title into wide release when it opened “Unhinged” at more than 1,800 locations. The Russell Crowe thriller earned $20 million domestically and another $22 million internationally.
Solstice also bought the Mark Wahlberg drama “Joe Bell” at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival. It is re-cutting the film and will give it an awards season release of Feb. 19, 2021.