EXCLUSIVE: Another horse looks to be joining the 2013-14 Oscar race.
"The Dallas Buyers Club," the long-gestating AIDS drama starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, is close to a distribution deal with Focus Features, according to two people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to talk about them publicly.
The Universal Pictures specialty division is negotiating to pick up domestic and select international rights to the movie and would release it in the U.S. before the end of the year, the people said, positioning it and its actors for award consideration.
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Universal had a first-look option on the independently financed feature after an earlier iteration was in development at the studio. Some deal points still need to be worked out, the people said, but if an agreement is reached, the movie could begin its run at the late-summer festivals and be in theaters within the following few months.
As companies begin to stockpile award contenders for the fall, Focus has a relatively light dossier, with no movie currently dated for the weighty September-December period. It does have a well-reviewed specialty hit currently in theaters, Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines," which has gotten off to a solid box-office start. A Focus spokesperson did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment.
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