Donald Trump Movie ‘The Apprentice’ Sells Around The World As Intrigue Remains Over U.S. Release

EXCLUSIVE: The movie Donald Trump doesn’t want people to see is going global.

While intrigue continues to surround the film’s U.S. release prospects, Cannes Competition title The Apprentice, about Trump’s rise to power, has been sold to key independent distributors in a host of international markets where demand has been strong.

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International sales firm Rocket Science has set deals for the film’s release in Italy (BIM), Spain (Vertigo Films), Scandinavia (Nordisk), Benelux (The Searchers), Greece (Odeon), Portugal (Lusomundo), Eastern Europe (M2), Japan (Kino), Latin America (Sun), Israel (Lev Cinema), Airlines (Skeye) and Australia & New Zealand (Madman).

Deals were recently announced for UK (Studio Canal), France (Metropolitan) and Germany, Austria & Switzerland (DCM). Mongrel is releasing in Canada via a pact sealed by producers.

Some of these deals were set before Cannes while others were inked on the Croisette where the film debuted last month to largely positive notices — stars Sebastian Stan and Jeremy Strong came in for particular praise — and became one of the talking points of the festival.

Deals for remaining international territories are said to be in “final negotiations”. Among them is understood to be Russia, where the film could have an interesting reception and campaign.

Directed by Ali Abbasi and written by Gabe Sherman, The Apprentice stars Emmy nominee Sebastian Stan (Pam & Tommy) as Donald Trump, Emmy winner Jeremy Strong (Succession) as the firebrand Roy Cohn, Martin Donovan (Tenet) as Fred Trump Sr, and Oscar nominee Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) as Ivana Trump.

The film charts a young Donald Trump’s ascent to power through a Faustian deal with the influential right-wing lawyer and political fixer Cohn.

Industry watchers were expectant the film would get a U.S. deal soon after its Cannes launch. Some we spoke to assumed a streamer would be the most logical fit. However, in an election year, threats of legal action from Trump’s team (the film includes a controversial scene in which Trump’s character rapes his former wife Ivana) and a report of one disgruntled financier, didn’t help progress towards a swift domestic pact.

The current state of play as we understand it is that multiple parties remain interested in the film domestically, and there is confidence a deal will get done, probably this month. Inevitably, due diligence is being carried out with even greater thoroughness by potential buyers.

The Apprentice is both a hot potato and a buzzy proposition with plenty of built-in marketing. International buyers may be less obviously in the firing line than a U.S. distributor but there has been speculation that Trump’s status after the upcoming Presidential election could be influential on any release: he will either be a convicted felon who has just lost his second consecutive attempt at the White House or he will be the U.S. President and once again the world’s most powerful man (as well as a convicted felon).

Certainly, the project’s journey has never been a straight line. The movie was kept under wraps by filmmakers throughout production, partially in the hope of avoiding controversy. We hear it was significantly rigored from a legal standpoint in case it encountered bumps in the road. Despite its challenges, we understand cuts aren’t being entertained by the filmmakers who naturally want to maintain its artistic integrity.

Producers are Daniel Bekerman for Scythia Films, Jacob Jarek for Profile Pictures, Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde for Tailored Films, and Ali Abbasi and Louis Tisné for Film Institute. Executive producers are Amy Baer, Mark H. Rapaport, Emanuel Nunez, Grant S. Johnson, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Thorsten Schumacher, Levi Woodward, Niamh Fagan, Gabriel Sherman, Grey Denny, James Shani, Noor Alfallah, Andy Cohen, Andrew Frank, Neil Mathieson, Lee Broda, Blair Ward, Anders Erdén.

Backers include Kinematics, Head Gear Films, Screen Ireland, Film i Väst, The Danish Film Institute and National Bank of Canada.

Director Abbasi today tweeted first concept artwork for the movie, playfully adding: “Make Posters Great Again”.

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