Focus Features Acquires Timur Bekmambetov Terrorist Thriller ‘Profile’

Focus Features has taken global rights to Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov’s thriller Profile, which made its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in 2018 and won the Audience Award there. A theatrical release date of May 14 has been set. Universal Pictures will distribute internationally, excluding CIS/Russia.

Profile follows an undercover British journalist in her quest to bait and expose a terrorist recruiter through social media, while trying not to be sucked in by her recruiter and lured into becoming a militant extremist herself. Profile stars Valene Kane (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and Shazad Latif (Star Trek: Discovery) and is inspired by the 2015 nonfiction bestseller In the Skin of a Jihadist by a French journalist who now has round-the-clock police protection and has changed her name to Anna Érelle.

Profile plays out entirely on a computer screen in the Screenlife format, pioneered by Bekmambetov. It was written by Britt Poulton (Them That Follow) and Bekmambetov and Olga Kharina. Bekmambetov and Kharina are producers under the Bazelevs banner with executive producer Igor Tsay from Interface Films.

The Kazakh-Russian film director came to Hollywood’s attention with his 2004 Russian vampire franchise Night Watch, which spawned the 2006 sequel Day Watch. Bekmambetov’s first Hollywood directorial feature was Universal’s action pic Wanted starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman which was nominated for two Oscars and grossed $342.4 million at the worldwide box office. As a producer, Bekmambetov’s Screenlife title Unfriended was picked up by Universal and grossed about $65M worldwide off a $1M budget. He also produced the Debra Messing and John Cho feature Searching, which was picked up by Sony Pictures and grossed $75M on an even smaller budget.

Profile also played SXSW and won the Audience Award in 2018.

“While the pandemic has shifted our entire lives online, with school gone remote, work meetings replaced by videocalls, and happy hours virtual, it has also raised numerous questions about our digital privacy, data protection, and cybersecurity. That makes this the best time to watch a movie like Profile for those who have spent months in lockdown with their computer screens and who can relate to the paranoia and riskiness driven by the Internet and online technologies in a time when everyone from the terrorists to your government wants a piece of your digital exposure,” Bekmambetov says.

In summer 2020, Universal and Bekmambetov inked a deal to partner on another five Screenlife features in various genres. Earlier, in March, Screenlife earned Bekmambetov’s Bazelevs production company a place in Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative video companies in the world.

Bekmambetov is represented by WME and Chase Mellen III. Kane is represented by Untitled Entertainment. Latif is represented by Principal Entertainment LA. Adams is represented by Berwick & Kovacik. Rahimzadeh is represented by Cherry Parker Management. Watkins is represented by Independent Talent Group. Cater is represented by Middleweek Newton Talent Management.

The Profile sale was negotiated by WME.

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