Cannes Film Fest 2019: Malick’s WWII Drama Acquired by Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight has acquired rights for U.S. and some international territories on Terrence Malick’s meditative World War II drama A Hidden Life, after its warm reception at the Cannes Film Fest.

Using his characteristic perspective and style, A Hidden Life tells the true story of the Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter, who rejected Adolf Hitler and objected to the war. As a result, he was ostracized by his community, imprisoned for his convictions, and executed.

Bidders such as Netflix and A24 were circling the project after its world premiere on Sunday.

The movie, which is headlined by Austrian actor August Diehl, marks Malick’s return to the Cannes Film Fest competition after his superb 2011 The Tree of Life deservedly won the top prize, the Palme d’Or.

Diehl stars opposite Valerie Pachner, who gives a remarkable performance as his sympathetic and understating wife.

The cast also includes Maria Simon, Tobias Moretti, the late Bruno Ganz and Matthias Schoenaerts.

Reviews have been strong for what is considered to be a return to form by Malick, who has not made a critically acclaimed film in years.

He hasn’t had a film that cracked $1 million at the domestic box office since 2011’s “The Tree of Life,” which Searchlight also released and pushed to a $13.3 million haul.

Malick tone poems such as “Knight of Cups” ($566,006), “Song to Song” ($443,684), and “To the Wonder” ($587,615)  failed to meet appreciative audiences.

Fox Searchlight hopes to promote A Hidden Life into the awards season fray. The studio has successfully used that kind of attention in the past to help difficult films such as “Birdman” and “The Favourite” achieve commercial success.

The movie will undoubtedly be bolstered by the warm critical response it received upon premiering in competition at Cannes.