Profile: Focus Features nabs global rights to Timur Bekmambetov’s screenlife thriller
Focus Features has successfully acquired the worldwide distribution rights to director Timur Bekmambetov’s 2018 terrorist thriller film titled Profile. It had its world premiere three years ago at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival where it won an Audience Award. Focus Features will distribute the film domestically while Universal Pictures will distribute it internationally, excluding CIS/Russia. The film is scheduled to arrive in U.S. theaters this May 14.
“While the pandemic has shifted our entire lives online, with school gone remote, work meetings replaced by videocalls, and happy hours virtual, it has also raised numerous questions about our digital privacy, data protection, and cybersecurity,” Bekmambetov said. “That makes this the best time to watch a movie like Profile for those who have spent months in lockdown with their computer screens and who can relate to the paranoia and riskiness driven by the Internet and online technologies in a time when everyone from the terrorists to your government wants a piece of your digital exposure,”
The said release date will see the film going directly against Warner Bros.’ Western thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead which is being led by Angelina Joline, Nicholas Hoult, Aidan Gillen, Jon Bernthal and Tyler Perry.
Inspired by the 2015 nonfiction bestseller In the Skin of a Jihadist by a French journalist, Profile follows the story of an undercover British journalist in her quest to bait and expose a terrorist recruiter through social media, while trying not to be sucked in by her recruiter and lured into becoming a militant extremist herself. The real-life French journalist is currently under police protection and has changed her name to Anna Érelle.
This unconventional thriller plays out entirely on a computer screen in the Screenlife format, pioneered by Bekmambetov. It stars Valene Kane (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and Shazad Latif (Star Trek: Discovery) along with Christine Adams as Vick and Morgan Watkins as Matt.
Profile is directed by Timur Bekmambetov, who is known for works in Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Ben-Hur. It is written by Britt Poulton (Them That Follow) and Timur Bekmambetov & Olga Kharina, and Bekmambetov and Kharina are the producers under the Bazelevs banner and executive producer Igor Tsay from Interface Films.
As a producer, his big break came with his Screenlife films Unfriended, which was picked up by Universal and grossed about $65 million worldwide — on a budget of $1 million, and Debra Messing and John Cho-led Searching picked up by Sony Pictures and making $75 million on an even smaller budget. A sequel for Searching is currently in development with Will Merrick and Nick Johnson set to co-write and co-direct.