Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: It’s almost like the Sundance Film Festival has started, with all the advance acquisition activity. A&E IndieFilm just acquired TV rights to Corman’s World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel, the documentary about low-budget independent icon Roger Corman. A&E becomes an investor in a film that will still be shopped for feature rights, much the way that A&E was a ground floor participant in The Tillman Story, the documentary acquired for theatrical release by The Weinstein Company after its Sundance premiere. Corman will be on hand for Friday night’s world premiere in Park City.

Directed by Alex Stapleton, Corman’s World focuses on Corman’s prolific film output, and also careers that launched in his low-budget factory that include James Cameron, Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Francis Coppola, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jonathan Demme and Martin Scorsese. Many of them tell their stories in the documentary. Howard once told me that at the height of his American Graffiti and Happy Days fame, he went to Corman to horse trade for the chance to direct. He agreed to star in Corman’s Eat My Dust in exchange for the chance to be a second unit director or more, on a future project. Corman rejected a bunch of Howard’s ideas, but while testing titles for Eat My Dust, Corman told Howard that another title, Grand Theft Auto, was an audience pleaser. Howard rushed to fashion a car-crash comedy around it, turning in an outline the next day. Corman green lit it immediately and gave Howard $600,000. That was just one of the  Oscar-winning feature directing careers launched in the Corman factory.

The deal was made by A&E Indie Films acquisitions exec Molly Thompson and WME Global’s Mark Ankner, who repped Far Hill Pictures. Stone Douglass and Taylor Materne produced with Stapleton, Izabela Frank, Mickey Barold and Jeff Frey. WME Global will shop the remaining rights at the festival. Scorsese is among those legends who took part in the film, and Far Hills Pictures produced his documentary A Letter To Elia.

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