AGC Studios to Finance Scott Free Thriller ‘Panopticon’

Erwin Oropesa

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Signaling its second project bound for Cannes’ late June virtual market, AGC Studios will fully finance and co-produce criminal justice thriller “Panopticon,” AGC chairman-CEO Stuart Ford announced Thursday.

Sales arm AGC International is handling international sales; CAA Media Finance, which arranged for the film’s financing, will represent a domestic sale. The two companies will co-represent Chinese distribution rights  

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Set up at Scott Free Productions, and based on a screenplay from Emily Jerome which made the 2017 Black List, “Panopticon” will be directed by Andrés Baiz, a founding father of Colombia’s modern-day cinema who made one of its highlights (“The Hidden Face”) and has gained large international profile directing 12 episodes of “Narcos” and now four of “Narcos: Mexico.”

Active casting is ongoing with production scheduled to begin in Fall 2020 on a feature which aims to take a hard look at the U.S. criminal justice system – befitting its title of “Panopticon” or the central control tower of a prison that allows guards a 360-degree vision of a penitentiary. 

The thriller turns on an ambitious hedge fund manager, Chase, who gets wind of a little-known financial gold mine called PCC Correctional, an Arizona-based private prison system that racks up huge profits. Chase decides to invest go all in, only to realize, when touring the prison that the inmates are running the show.  

“Chase starts a dangerous game as she tries to fix things in order to save the jackpot she’s reaping for herself and her firm,” the synopsis runs.

Tom Moran and Vera Meyer will shepherd the project with Kevin Walsh producing for Scott Free, alongside Jerome and AGC Studios’ Ford and head of production Linda McDonough.  Ridley Scott (“Alien: Covenant,” “The Martian,” “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” “Prometheus,” “The Grey,” “American Gangster,” “Hannibal,” “Gladiator”) serves as executive producer.  Production is slated to begin in Fall 2020 and active casting is ongoing. 

Said Ford, “Emily Jerome has written a powerful, taut thriller wrapped up in the all too prescient real world arena of the U.S. incarceration system.”

The deal was negotiated by AGC’s VP of legal & business affairs Anant Tamirisa on behalf of AGC, and by CAA on behalf of Baiz and Jerome, and Ridley Scott. Baiz is also represented by Management 360, and Jerome by Jamie Feldman of Lichter Grossman. 

AGC Studios announced mid-May a first Cannes-bound project,  new action thriller movie “The Blacksmith,” starring actor-singer-songwriter Nick Jonas and Laurence Fishburne. 

Looking forward, AGC is also partnering CNN Films on two upcoming doc features: “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” to be released later this year via Magnolia and Participant; and “Ladyboss: The Jackie Collins Story,” now in post-production.  

AGC also serves as the international distribution partner on Roland Emmerich’s forthcoming sci-fi action epic “Moonfall,” and is in pre-production on horror thriller “Geechee,” starring Andrea Riseborough, and on the television adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez’s “News Of A Kidnapping” for Amazon Studios, one of its highest-profile drama series set in Latin America.

Upcoming films from Scott Free Productions, founded in 1995, include Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel,” starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck; Chase Palmer’s directorial debut “A Naked Singularity,” starring John Boyega; and the highly anticipated “Murder on the Orient Express” sequel “Death On The Nile,” directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh with Armie Hammer and Gal Gadot also set to star.

Also in the pipeline is Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s “Our Friend,” starring Jason Segel, Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck; Max Winkler’s “Jungleland,” starring Charlie Hunnam, Jack O’Connell and Jessica Barden; and an untitled project about the Gucci family fashion dynasty and the murder of Maurizio Gucci, in which Lady Gaga will star as Patrizia Reggiani, his ex-wife.

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