Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After opening Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life in the U.S., Fox Searchlight presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula have acquired the U.K. rights to the film from Bill Pohlad’s River Road Entertainment, which financed the film. They’ve dated the film for July 8 opening in the U.K. The film, which stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, opened right after it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Its four screen average of $93,230 per theater beat Searchlight’s launch of Black Swan. The film has added eight markets and will add another 12 this week to a total of 22.

“We knew this was an amazing film from the moment we saw it,” Gilula and Utley said. Pohlad added: “Fox Searchlight has been an extraordinary partner distributing our film in the United States, so we’re thrilled to have them release The Tree of Life in the United Kingdom, allowing international audiences to experience Terry’s beautiful and affecting masterpiece.” Pohlad produced the film with Sarah Green, Pitt, Dede Gardner and Grant Hill.

I saw the film at its Cannes premiere, where I think I actually glimpsed Malick as he took in the cheers. Much like Pohlad said in an interview we did about the long road to bring that film to the screen, it is one of those movies where you can’t help but factor your own baggage from your upbringing and your experience of raising your own children into how you evaluate what you’ve seen. Scenes from the movie play back in my mind still, even though I’m not sure I fully understood everything  I saw. It’s nice to be challenged that way on occasion in a theater.

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