EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 8:48 am PST: Coming into Sundance, many expected big things for upstart distribution company A24, and the label hasn’t disappointed. A24 is closing the biggest deal so far for the company, acquiring domestic distribution rights from Participant Media to A Most Violent Year, the drama written and directed by All Is Lost and Margin Call helmer J.C. Chandor. The film stars Inside Llewyn Davis‘s Oscar Isaac and Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jessica Chastain. I’m told the plan is to release the film wide, late this year, giving A24 a likely horse in the next Oscar race. It starts shooting shortly. I’m told it will be 1200 screens, minimum.
This comes after A24 acquired two of the best liked films at this year’s Sundance: the Lynn Shelton-directed Laggies with Keira Knightley, Chloe Moretz and Sam Rockwell, and the Gillian Robespierre-directed comedy Obvious Child, which features a breakout performance by former Saturday Night Live cast member Jenny Slate. Laggies came after an all night auction, and it’s a smart buy because the film will likely be released after TWC unveils Toronto title Can A Song Save Your Life, a breakout film that will cast Knightley in a different career light once audiences see the John Carney-directed film.
A Most Violent Year, which is co-financed by Participant and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, takes place in New York in 1981, a year in which the city had one of its highest tallies of violent crime. An immigrant and his family are trying to grow a business and their ambition collides with the crime element. Before The Door’s Neal Dodson and Washington Square Films’ Anna Gerb are producing with Chandor, and they all did All Is Lost and Margin Call together. Participant’s Jeff Skoll are involved in producing capacities as well. I’ll provide the whole lineup when I can get it.
A24 is well capitalized and has done well distributing acquisitions including Spring Breakers, The Spectacular Now and The Bling Ring. Getting in on the ground floor of a hot picture is the next step–A24 did it with Kevin Smith’s Tusk, and the label will next strive to build enduring relationships with emerging filmmakers, and I’m told this deal is about to close.
Here’s the official press release:
A24 has acquired U.S. rights to Participant Media’s A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, written and directed by J.C. Chandor (All is Lost, Margin Call) and starring Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) and two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain. A24 is planning for a fourth quarter 2014 wide release.
“A24 has established itself as an innovative distributor that understands how to reach a large, diverse audience.” says Jim Berk. “They share our passion for J.C.’s thrilling vision of 1980’s New York featuring the extraordinarily talented Oscar and Jessica.”
“Participant has a terrific track record of partnering with groundbreaking filmmakers and we are thrilled to continue that tradition with this exciting film. J.C. has already shown what a talent he is and is consistently making bold choices in the stories he chooses to tell. This is an important step for our company as we are thrilled to be working with the incredible team involved in making this film,” says A24.
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, which Participant Media and Image Nation Abu Dhabi are co-financing, is produced by Before The Doors’ Neal Dodson and Washington Square Films’ Anna Gerb, along with Chandor. Dodson and Gerb also produced Chandor’s ALL IS LOST and MARGIN CALL. Executive producers are Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King, Joshua Blum, Kerry Orent, and Glen Basner of FilmNation Entertainment, which will handle international sales to commence at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin. Jonathan King, Participant’s EVP Production and Robert Kessel, SVP Production, are overseeing the production for Participant.
A Most Violent Year is a thriller set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city’s history. The film follows the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built.
A24 negotiated the deal with FilmNation’s Basner and Participant COO Jeff Ivers.
The film is scheduled to begin shooting shortly in New York City.