The much-anticipated heist film ‘The Blue Mauritius’ is back on track with its new producing partner Benaroya Pictures, the company behind such hit films as Lawless, The Words, Margin Call, and Queen of the Desert with Nicole Kidman, James Franco and Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame.
The film is also getting a new cast member by way of Anthony Mackie, the American superstar who burst onto the scene with his brilliant performance in The Hurt Locker, directed by the incomparable Kathryn Bigelow. We saw the two pair up again this year on her critically acclaimed film Detroit.
However, most audiences around the world know Mackie from his portrayal of Falcon in the Marvel Studios franchise films Captain America and Avengers.
“I’m so pleased to be working with Michael Benaroya and his prestigious company Benaroya Pictures on The Blue Mauritius, a project that’s been a labor of love. Michael is super smart and well connected in Hollywood and after four years of false starts I can finally feel secure we’re going to get this done,” said executive producer and CEO of D Street Media Group Dexter Davis. “Anthony Mackie who I consider a real movie star brings such a fresh perspective to the cast and the character, he’s an incredibly talented, versatile actor who truly takes the project to the next level.”
The Blue Mauritius is the first film that will test D Street’s mandate to create a “star system” in South Africa. The producers cast South African actors Deon Lotz, Pearl Thusi and Nicola Breytenbach in principal roles alongside other international stars such as John Rhys-Davies, Gerard Depardieu, Thomas Kretschmann and now of course Anthony Mackie. With almost guaranteed U.S. and international distribution, D Street is betting on its South African talent becoming more recognizable to worldwide audiences.
“We believe we can achieve what 12 Years a Slave did for Lupita Nyong’o. Had it not been for her very famous co-stars Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Brad Pitt, who’s fame brought in audiences from all over the world, we may not know who Lupita Nyong’o is today,” said D Street’s president Ernest Napoleon. “What we’re proposing is not rocket science, one of the key elements to creating a star system is exposure. The more we create content like The Blue Mauritius with South African actors in prominent roles, the better our chances are to produce South African films that can be sold worldwide.”
D Street isn’t stopping with The Blue Mauritius, the company is teaming up with South African producer Grieg Buckle and his Enigma Pictures to produce the faith-based basketball film Ballin: On the Other Side of the World.
The story is about a young South African boy whose talent in basketball is discovered by an American priest during missionary work in Cape Town.
The film is yet another example of how D Street is developing content with South African storylines, while utilizing American and African talent in leading roles. The company’s relationship to Hollywood is imperative to the success of the model.
D Street Releasing, the distribution arm of D Street Media Group has made clear of its intentions to be the go to distributor to handle South African and African films that can compete with other English and foreign language films in America, and is actively looking for a content partner in South Africa to help grow that business.
“The way we see growth happening in the South African film industry is from the outside in. Indeed, creating a star system will be a huge part of that, but more importantly we think utilizing America’s more than 40,000 screens as a home for South African films is strategic and central to the plan. If France can generate an almost $100MM annual box-office take in America, there’s no reason why South African films can’t do at least half that business,” said Davis. “South Africa has to think bigger about being a global player in film and cannot depend on its own screens to build its industry. The country has the talent and the knowhow. Hopefully it has the will to be bold as it has in other industries. Obviously, D Street wants to be a big part of that.”