International film distribution and production company D Street Media will begin production on the big budget The Blue Mauritius early next year, and it's set to bring some top Hollywood actors to Cape Town. New to the cast is Anthony Mackie, of Avengers fame. By Lance Witten
"Anthony Mackie, who I consider a real movie star, brings such a fresh perspective to the cast and the character, he’s an incredibly talented, versatile actor who truly takes the project to the next level," D Street chief executive Dexter Davis said.
“I’m also so pleased to be working with Michael Benaroya and his prestigious company Benaroya Pictures on The Blue Mauritius, a project that’s been a labour of love. Michael is super smart and well connected in Hollywood and after four years of false starts I can finally feel secure we’re going to get this done," Davis said.
The Blue Mauritius is the first film that will test D Street’s mandate to create a “star system” in South Africa.
The producers cast South African actors Deon Lotz, Pearl Thusi and Nicola Breytenbach in principal roles alongside other international stars such as John Rhys-Davies, Gerard Depardieu, Thomas Kretschmann and now Anthony Mackie. With almost guaranteed US and international distribution, D Street is betting on its South African talent becoming more recognisable to worldwide audiences.
“We believe we can achieve what 12 Years a Slave did for Lupita Nyong’o. Had it not been for her very famous co-stars Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Brad Pitt, whose fame brought in audiences from all over the world, we may not know who Lupita Nyong’o is today,” said D Street’s president Ernest Napoleon.
“What we’re proposing is not rocket science; one of the key elements to creating a star system is exposure. The more we create content like The Blue Mauritius with South African actors in prominent roles, the better our chances are to produce South African films that can be sold worldwide.”
D Street isn’t stopping with The Blue Mauritius, the company is teaming up with South African producer Grieg Buckle and his Enigma Pictures to produce the faith-based basketball film Ballin: On the Other Side of the World.
The story is about a young South African boy whose talent in basketball is discovered by an American priest during missionary work in Cape Town.
The film is yet another example of how D Street is developing content with South African storylines, while utilising American and African talent in leading roles. The company’s relationship to Hollywood is imperative to the success of the model.
“The way we see growth happening in the South African film industry is from the outside in. Indeed, creating a star system will be a huge part of that, but more importantly we think utilising America’s more than 40 000 screens as a home for South African films is strategic and central to the plan. If France can generate an almost $100m annual box-office take in America, there’s no reason why South African films can’t do at least half that business,” said Davis.
“South Africa has to think bigger about being a global player in film and cannot depend on its own screens to build its industry. The country has the talent and the know-how. Hopefully it has the will to be bold as it has in other industries. Obviously, D Street wants to be a big part of that.”