CinemaCon: Johnny Depp’s The Rum Diary Coming October 28

While attending the CinemaCon opening night party last night, our good friend and colleague Kino Katey from CinemaBlend noticed a still from Bruce Robinson’s The Rum Diary flashing on the screen with a release date of October 28, 2011.

This long-in-development movie returns Johnny Depp to the crazy world of Hunter S. Thompson, a character he played in Terry Gilliam’s 1998 movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but this time it’s based on one of Thompson’s works of “fiction” in which Depp will play journalist Paul Kemp who gets frustrated with New York and moves to Puerto Rico to write for a local newspaper. The movie also stars Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart and Richard Jenkins.

Only having seen the image of Depp on a motorbike and the release date go by on the screen a number of times and knowing little else, we did a bit of sleuthing, and being that the film was co-produced by Graham King’s GK Films, it makes sense that the movie would be released by GK’s new distribution arm FilmDistrict, whose first movie Insidious comes out Friday. FilmDistrict has been a fairly prominent player at CinemaCon so far with posters for Insidious and the drama Soul Surfer (released on April 8) everywhere.

FilmDistrict was also one of the partners sponsoring the party and it also makes sense due to President of Theatrical Distribution Bob Berney’s involvement in many prestige titles from his days at Picturehouse, Apparition and even Newmarket, so he may see The Rum Diary as an opportunity to get Johnny Depp back into the Oscar race, something that a late October release date would certainly make more logical.

We’re still working to get confirmation on whether FilmDistrict indeed will be releasing the movie on that date, but in the meantime, we’ve also learned that FilmDistrict will also be releasing James Mather and Stephen St. Leger’s Lockout, the Luc Besson-produced action thriller starring Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace on February 24, 2012.

UPDATE: FilmDistrict has confirmed our report via the following press release:

It was announced today at CinemaCon, by Bob Berney, President, Theatrical Distribution that FilmDistrict will release “The Rum Diary,” based on the early Hunter S. Thompson novel that was ultimately published in 1998. It stars Johnny Depp and will be released on October 28, 2011. The film is directed by Bruce Robinson (“Withnail and I”) from his own screenplay and also stars Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard, Michael Rispoli, Richard Jenkins and Giovanni Ribisi. “The Rum Diary” is produced by Infinitum Nihil, the production company headed by Depp and Christi Dembrowski, along with Graham King and Tim Headington. Anthony Rhulen and Robert Kravis also produce.

“The Rum Diary” tells the increasingly unhinged story of itinerant journalist Paul Kemp (Depp). Tired of the noise and madness of New York and the crushing conventions of late Eisenhower-era America, Kemp travels to the pristine island of Puerto Rico to write for a local San Juan newspaper run by the downtrodden editor Lotterman (Jenkins). Adopting the rum-soaked lifestyle of the late ‘50s version of Hemingway’s “The Lost Generation,” Paul soon becomes entangled with a very attractive American woman, Chenault (Heard) and her fiancée Sanderson (Eckhart), a businessman involved in shady property development deals. It is within this world that Kemp ultimately discovers his true voice as a writer and integrity as a man.

“Hunter S. Thompson became close with Johnny Depp during the filming of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and showed Depp the unpublished manuscript for The Rum Diary,” says producer and FilmDistrict co-founder Graham King. “I am extremely proud to bring this novel to film and to honor Hunter’s legacy.”

Peter Schlessel, CEO of FilmDistrict and President of GK Films, says, “The Rum Diary” is a special project for all of us here, as it is a true collaboration between both of our entities. Depp gives an extraordinary performance in this remarkable adaptation.”

“Robinson directed one of my favorite films, “Withnail and I” – combine that with Hunter S. Thompson and it’s a match made in celluloid heaven,” says Bob Berney, President of Distribution, FilmDistrict.

“The Rum Diary” is a GK Films, Infinitum Nihil and Film Engine production produced by Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski, Anthony Rhulen, Robert Kravis, Tim Headington and Graham King.

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