Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate is wrapping up a deal to acquire North American distribution rights to Rabbit Hole, and the plan is to jump right into this year’s Oscar race by releasing  the picture  before year’s end. They will take advantage of a career performance by Nicole Kidman as a mother who loses her child. The John Cameron Mitchell-directed film stars Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as a married couple trying to keep the relationship alive after a devastating loss. David Lindsay-Abaire adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Dianne Wiest’s performance has also been singled out.

It is the second big deal in two days for Lionsgate, which partnered with Roadside Attractions for the U.S. rights on the Robert Redford-directed The Conspirator. While the decision was made for that pic to sit out this crowding Oscar field, Lionsgate needed a horse to ride in the race and Rabbit Hole is it. The buzz on the film has been strong here, both among critics and audiences, despite its dark subject matter. Kidman is credited with her best performance since her Oscar-winning turn in The Hours. On Rabbit Hole, she found and bought the stage play and receives her first producing credit since she was the catalyst for getting the movie made. The deal was negotiated between CAA and Lionsgate’s Jason Constantine, Eda Kowan and Wendy Jaffe.