EXCLUSIVE: Paramount’s Republic Pictures label has acquired North American rights to dystopian drama-thriller The End We Start From, starring BAFTA and Emmy winner Jodie Comer (Killing Eve).

The mid seven-figure pact marks the biggest announced deal for a project on sale at this year’s Cannes market so far. Anton and UTA are handling world sales here on the Riviera.

Comer stars as a woman who, along with her newborn child, must try to find her way home amid an environmental crisis that submerges London in flood waters and sees their young family torn apart in the chaos.

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Mahalia Belo (The Long Song) directs the movie, which also stars Joel Fry (Cruella), Mark Strong (Kingsman), Gina McKee (My Policeman), Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game). 

Based on the novel by Megan Hunter and adapted to screen by Alice Birch (Normal People), pic is produced by Leah Clarke and Adam Ackland (The Mauritanian) for SunnyMarch, Liza Marshall (Temple) for Hera Pictures, Amy Jackson (Aftersun) and Sophie Hunter. Pic is currently in post-production.

Anton, C2 Motion Picture Group, BBC Film, and the BFI financed the film, which will go through Paramount’s Global Content Distribution.

Paramount Chief Content Licensing Officer and Republic Pictures President Dan Cohen said: “What Mahalia Belo has brought to screen from Megan Hunter’s novel is both a harrowing and hopeful examination of human resilience, and we are honored to be a part of the film’s journey to captivating audiences.”

Paramount revived acquisitions play Republic Pictures earlier this year. The historic label was founded in 1935 and shuttered in 1967. Among early projects on the slate are Winter Spring Summer or Fall, starring Jenna Ortega and Percy Hines White, and William Friedkin’s The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.

The slew of strong packages announced pre-market prompted hopes of energetic deal-making in Cannes. Things are slowly coming into focus. Domestic deal-making has been sluggish to date, with streamers (and global deals) largely absent from the fray, leaving the door open for international indie buyers to take their pick. We hear a number of projects are being sold well internationally and a couple of the bigger festival titles are starting to generate heat for North America.

We told you about the biggest deal finalized here so far: Sony’s big splash for the Paddington threequel, though that project wasn’t strictly on sale in Cannes and the pact was largely lined up ahead of the market. Neon made the first announced North American deal for a festival movie with Pablo Berger’s Robot Dreams and Sony Classics announced a deal for animated doc They Shot The Piano Player. There was a fevered report of Prime Video working on a UK deal for Firebrand, but that all rights pact was put in place last year.

Executive producers on The End We Start From are Benedict Cumberbatch for SunnyMarch, Jodie Comer, Mark Strong, Sébastien Raybaud, Fanny Soulier, Pieter Engels, Kate Maxwell for Anton, Dave Caplan (Babylon) and Jason Cloth (Joker) for C2 Motion Picture Group, Eva Yates and Claudia Yusef for BBC Film, and Lizzie Francke for the BFI. 

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