EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has boarded Paradise Highway, a Silver Reel and ZDF thriller starring Oscar winners Juliette Binoche and Morgan Freeman, and Captain America actor Frank Grillo.
Lionsgate has taken North America distribution rights and will handle international sales. ZDF boards as co-producer and German distributor. Both deals were secured by Silver Reel’s Claudia Bluemhuber.
In Paradise Highway, written and directed by Anna Gutto, Sally (Binoche), a truck driver, has been forced to smuggle illicit cargo to save her brother Dennis (Grillo) from a deadly prison gang. With FBI operative Gerick (Freeman) hot on her trail, Sally’s motivations and conscience are challenged when the final package turns out to be a teenage girl (Hala Finley).
Cameron Monaghan, Veronica Ferres, Christiane Seidel and Walker Babington also star in the feature.
Gutto (Netflix’s Home for Christmas) wrote her screenplay off of years of research and immersion in the trucking community. The script was the recipient of Columbia University’s Zaki Gordon Memorial Award for Excellence in Screenwriting.
“It’s an honor to work with Juliette Binoche and Morgan Freeman,” Gutto said. “Their performances are…electric. And, on top of that, having young talent Hala Finley come in and unapologetically impress us. Seeing powerhouse Juliette in generous awe with Hala, I knew we’d create a uniquely powerful connection on screen. The whole cast; Frank, Cameron, Veronica, Christiane, Walker – embracing their conflicted characters, working alongside real women truckers Desiree Woods and Dianne McNair-Smith – it fills the story with passion and truth.”
Bluemhuber added: “Having Juliette take on this brave, gutsy role in a deeply thought-provoking and thrilling story is incredibly exciting. Seeing Morgan Freeman on screen with Juliette for the first time is magical. With Lionsgate and ZDF we have found the perfect partners to bring this film to a global audience.”
Barry Brooker, president and CEO of Grindstone Entertainment Group, which is handling the release for Lionsgate, added: “We’re thrilled to be adding this film to Lionsgate’s slate. The cast performances combined with Anna’s deeply researched story elevate this thriller. Paradise Highway will keep audiences riveted, and the questions it raises will stay with them long after viewing.”
Simone Emmelius, SVP International Fiction, Coproduction & Acquisitions at ZDF, added: “We are excited about this high-class cinematic co-production, which is not only shaped by strong women, but also tells a story full of female power, courage and bravery.”
Paradise Highway is produced by Silver Reel’s Bluemhuber, the label’s Head of Film Georgia Bayliff and Mike Leahy. EPs are Brooker of Grindstone; Florian Dargel, Alexander Jooss, and Karol Griffith for Silver Reel; Gary Leff for Southland; Dorothea Sick Thiess for Protect the Planet; and Silke Wilfinger for Silkway Films.
Binoche is represented by CAA and Untitled Management, and Freeman and Ferres by CAA. Grillo is represented by CAA, Management 360 and Paul Hastings. Finley is with Paradigm and Atlas. Monaghan is represented by UTA and Industry Entertainment, and Babington by The Krewe Collective. Seidel is with Buchwald and Affirmative Entertainment.
Gutto is represented in the U.S. by Grandview Management, Granderson des Rochers, and Albatros Agency for Scandinavia.