HBO acquires Barry Levinson’s ‘The Survivor’ over boxer Harry Haft – deadline
After its world premiere in Toronto, HBO Films acquired the exclusive North American rights to Barry Levinson’s film The survivor on Holocaust survivor and American boxer Harry Haft. Ben Foster plays Haft in the film, which marks a reteam with his Heights of Liberty writer-director Levinson. The deal was 8 digits, making it the biggest in a lackluster Toronto market.
After being sent to Auschwitz, Haft not only survived the unspeakable horrors of the camp, but also the gladiatorial boxing spectacle he was forced to perform with his fellow inmates for the enjoyment of his captors. Unbeknownst to those who attempt to destroy him, Haft is driven by the most important reason for any man to survive: a quest to find the woman he loves. After a daring escape, he travels to New York City, where he manages to use his boxing skills to make a name for himself in the hopes of finding his one true love. His indomitable spirit brings him to the ring with boxing legends like Rocky Marciano as he fights to make sense of his past and reclaim the life that was stolen from him.
The film is based on the book Harry Haft: Auschwitz survivor, Rocky Marciano’s Challenger by Alan Haft. Rain man Oscar winner Levinson directs, reviving HBO, having directed films such as Paterno, you don’t know Jack and The magician of lies; these HBO movies have amassed 26 Emmys. Justine Juel Gillmer adapted The survivor.
The survivor is produced by Matti Leshem of New Mandate Films (the shallows), Aaron L. Gilbert from BRON Studios (Bomb, Monster, The Front Runner), Jason Sosnoff of Baltimore Pictures (HBO Paterno, the magician of lies) and Barry Levinson (Donnie Brasco, Bugsy) and Scott Pardo (Hope and a little sugar). Executive producers are Joel Greenberg, Ben Foster, Danny Devito, Brenda Gilbert, Steven Thibault, Ashley Levinson, Anjay Nagpal, Ron McLeod, Jason Cloth and Richard McConnell.
Toronto Film Festival review “The Survivor”: Barry Levinson directs Ben Foster in extraordinary transformation into Auschwitz prisoner who wants to stay alive
The survivor also stars Vicky Krieps, Billy Magnussen, Peter Sarsgaard, Saro Emirze, Dar Zuzovsky, Danny DeVito and John Leguizamo.
Levinson, who also produced, said: “Having made many films at HBO, I don’t know of a better home for The survivor.“
Producers Matti Leshem and Aaron L. Gilbert said: “The survivor is the true story of a man who faces the ultimate moral dilemma in the face of one of the world’s greatest evils, Nazism. Harry Haft’s journey takes him from the depths of Auschwitz and into the ring with Rocky Marciano as he negotiates his new life and searches for the woman he loves. In a time when hatred based on race and creed escalates, Harry’s story is a reminder to overcome adversity through thick and thin. We were delighted to launch the film at TIFF and the tremendous reception we received afterwards. We’re thrilled that the HBO team are sharing our passion and look forward to starting this important story with them.
Production of the film was aided by a team from the USC Shoah Foundation, who provided detailed historical advice in addition to access to a testimony from Haft, filmed in 2007 and kept in the Visual History Archives of the ‘USC Shoah Foundation.
Said Francesca Orsi, Executive Vice President of Programming for HBO: “We are extremely proud to bring The survivor to the public of HBO and HBO Max. Barry’s meticulous exploration of this true story of unimaginable choices, perseverance, and redemption paired with Ben’s transformative performance will captivate viewers and be with them long after the credits roll.
WME Independent negotiated the deal with HBO.