Hollywood distributor to release SA crime drama iNumber Number in US in spring 2014


Los Angeles-based production and distribution company Wrekin Hill Entertainment has acquired the North American rights to 'iNumber Number', the South African thriller written and directed by Donovan Marsh. The story follows an honest undercover cop who, after being cheated out of a promotion, crosses over to become a part of a cash-in-transit heist gang.

Wrekin Hill is looking toward a US nationwide theatrical release of 'iNumber Number' in the spring of 2014. It will open in cinemas locally on 25 April, giving South African audiences the chance to see it first. "It's a major coup for us as filmmakers because it highlights the quality of the film," says producer Harriet Gavshon. "The international film market is highly competitive and securing a US release is a big win for the film. Universal Pictures optioned the remake rights to 'iNumber Number' at the end of last year, so we are urging audiences to make sure they see the original first as we are certain it will become a South African classic. The US release of the original also gives us the opportunity to showcase local talent on the international stage."

The film, which stars S'dumo Mtshali and Presley Chweneyagae, had its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival in September 2013. It was produced by Marsh, Quizzical Pictures' Harriet Gavshon, JP Potgieter and Mariki van der Walt, and executive produced by Nim Geva and Owen Kessel.

An action-packed movie, 'iNumber Number' is about a pair of cops battling corrupt colleagues as well as a gang of armoured-car thieves. Chili (S'dumo Mtshali, winner of 'Class Act' in 2010),and Shoes (Presley Chweneyagae of 'Tsotsi' and 'State of Violence' fame) have been partners in the police force for eight years. After they make a risky arrest, their corrupt superior refuses to give them the reward they are due. Enraged, Chili realises that honesty does not pay and sets about infiltrating a gang of armoured car thieves. His scheme goes awry when the gang discover histrue identity. They take Shoes hostage and go through with the heist. Lured by the potential loot, but finding himself in the midst of a killing spree, Chili has to shake off his rage and cynicism to do the right thing. The film boasts an oddball cast that brings comic relief to the ruthless thuggery.

'iNumber Number' is South African director Donovan Marsh's fourth film. An award-winning director, writer and editor, Marsh has worked in the local film industry since 1992. He wrote and directed the feature films 'Dollars and White Pipes', 'Spud' and 'Spud 2: The Madness Continues'.

Universal's remake of the film will be produced by Chris Morgan, the writer of the 'Fast & Furious' movies, and his partner Emile Gladstone, via their Universal-based Chris Morgan Productions. Aram Tertzakian of XYZ Films is also producing. Nate Bolotin and Nick Spicer are attached to executive produce.

"The Hollywood remake of notable foreign movies has proved to be successful in many instances, and this is a huge accolade for the filmmakers of 'iNumber Number'," says Gavshon. "Hollywood continually remakes excellent foreign films because American actors and the English language draw much bigger international audiences for a film. Subtitles are still a sticking point for cinema goers and audiences generally don't like them. In the case of 'iNumber Number', a great South African crime drama will have international exposure in a couple of years' time, which is great for our industry."

Helen Kuun, CEO of local distributor Indigenous Film Distribution, agrees. "The remake will make the film accessible to a wider audience, even though the plot remains the same. What usually happens is that the budget and special effects are ramped up because of increased financial backing. For 'iNumber Number', that means it will have the distinct advantage of being shown at many more cinemas all over the world."