Oprah now OWNs Madiba movie

2014-01-05 10:00

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It will take more than three years before the film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, is shown on TV.

And when it is, it will premiere behind a pay window on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

In the same week that OWN announced another year of double-digit growth, the network also revealed it had secured the television rights to the film based on Mandela’s autobiography.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, continues to garner critical acclaim across the world as its release is rolled out.

But television audiences will only see it in 2017.

Winfrey, who made much of her friendship with Madiba and attended his funeral in Qunu, bought the rights from The Weinstein Company (TWC).

OWN president Erik Logan said: “We couldn’t be more honoured to showcase this powerful film to the OWN viewers.

“Nelson Mandela was Oprah’s hero and ultimately the inspiration behind Oprah’s school in South Africa. His story of forgiveness and redemption is a gift not only to the people that he touched, but to the world.”

TWC co-chairperson Harvey Weinstein also played on the link between Mandela and Winfrey in his official comment.

“Partnering with them ensures that the picture will continue to honour the memory of Nelson Mandela for years to come,” he said.

Winfrey’s TV company seems to have weathered its early storms. Despite early predictions that she would be out of business within a few years, OWN ended last year on a high, with its second consecutive year of double-digit growth across key areas.

It has gained a notable increase in female and African-American prime-time viewers and, according to a press release, has achieved a total viewership increase of 21%.

After its South African premiere, Long Walk?–?South Africa’s most expensive feature film?–?was released in the US, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Israel, Iceland, Switzerland, Belgium and the Middle East.

It opened across 400 screens in the UK on Friday.

The film will no doubt be buoyed by a growing list of nominations. It is up for best actor, original score and song at the Golden Globe nominations next Sunday.

Two days later, the Oscar nominees will be announced and pundits expect that Long Walk will get a mention there.

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