Hot-Button Film ‘The Apprentice’ Moving Toward U.S. Deal With Briarcliff To Release Cannes Sensation On Donald Trump & Roy Cohn – The Dish

EXCLUSIVE: The back and forth over the prospect of a hot-button film on the formative years of Donald Trump is near done, and The Dish hears that backer Kinematics will soon be bought out of Daniel Snyder’s $5 million investment with a premium. Tom Ortenberg, who runs Briarcliff Entertainment and has overseen the distribution of films that included Fahrenheit 9/11, Best Picture winner Spotlight, Nightcrawler and many others, is getting close to acquiring the film for fall release.

Directed by Ali Abbasi and written by Gabriel Sherman, the film stars Sebastian Stan as Trump and Jeremy Strong as his mentor lawyer Roy Cohn in a film that traces the formative years of the former president who’ll take another run at the White House this fall. Maria Bakalova plays his ex-wife Ivana Trump.

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The film was one of the hottest tickets at the Cannes Film Festival, even as it became clear that major studios would steer clear. The prospect of awards-caliber performances by Succession‘s Strong, The Avengers‘ Stan and Bakalova and a powerful provocative story that should be a must-see in awards season was overshadowed by the idea that a return to the White House by Trump could create problems for the conglomerate behind a film you just know he’s going to hate. Reports are that he could sue, but that probably wouldn’t get far because Trump’s life is well documented, including a rape of estranged wife Ivana that she herself once disclosed though she later retracted it. Key to the logjam is that a partial financier is former Washington Commanders owner Snyder, a Trump supporter who also has disparaged the film.

RELATED: Donald Trump Tries To Halt ‘The Apprentice’ Hitting The Big Screen With Cease & Desist Demand; “Fair & Balanced” Producers Say Of Film

Ortenberg was the only distributor I’ve heard about who had the courage to step up, and he has been trying to tie down a deal for at least a month. Offshore territories were acquired quickly, and those releases are expected to happen after it plays in the U.S. during the presidential campaign in late September and October. Another fall festival berth is possible, but nothing will happen until the deal gets made, and hopes are that happens before the week is over.

RELATED: ‘The Apprentice’ Cannes Film Festival Premiere Photos: Sebastian Stan, Ali Abbasi, Maria Bakalova & More

Snyder’s believed to be in for about $5 million, and money was raised to make him whole and then some. Nobody involved would confirm what’s happening.

There will be more to come on this one, but a film that was reported to be in danger of never getting released in America looks like it will do so, with a seasoned distributor who knows how to play with provocative subject matter. Stay tuned.

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