Independent distributor Cinedigm has agreed to distribute an octet of new cast-driven sci-fi and thriller features from Robert Halmi Jr.’s Great Point Media in a new multi-picture partnership between the companies. Cinedigm will take all U.S. rights to the films including theatrical, digital, VOD, home entertainment, and TV in addition to having first look rights to Great Point Media’s development line-up. First pair of features are slated for late 2014. Emmy and Golden Globe-winning producer Halmi has over three decades of film and TV under his belt, including genre titles Dinotopia, Arabian Nights, The 10th Kingdom, Cleopatra, Alice in Wonderland, The Baby Dance and Lonesome Dove. His Great Point Media partner and fellow Emmy-winner Jim Reeve has produced for TV and film for 25 years, including Foyle’s War and Jack Higgins’ On Dangerous Ground. Their deal is the latest content agreement for Cinedigm, which is also planning a Comic Con branded digital channel, a Dove branded family and faith-based channel, and a documentary channel called Docurama. Great Point Media currently has 30 films, 2 mini-series and 6 television series in various stages of production and development.
The bull market that began in 2009 continued its stampede today in abbreviated trading ahead of Independence Day: The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.5% and crossed 17,000 for the first time following a strong June jobs report that showed the unemployment rate dropping to 6.1%, its lowest point since late 2008. Media companies joined in the rally. The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index, up 0.7%, hit an all time high. So did Disney (+0.5%), Time Warner Cable (+0.7%), Charter (+0.3%), and Nielsen (+0.6%), while Time Warner (+0.7%) and Gannett (0.7%) touched 52-week highs.
Fox (+1.4%) led the Big Media pack followed by Discovery (+0.8%), Time Warner, Disney, Viacom (+0.2%), Comcast (+0.6%), and CBS (no change) while Sony dropped 0.5%.
Cinedigm has inked a multi-picture distribution and production output deal with VMI Worldwide. Under the pact, VMI will produce, co-produce or acquire four genre-centric films per year, with Cinedigm handling the theatrical and home entertainment release and distribution strategy and manage the marketing campaigns. Cinedigm will be involved in all stages of production; the first film in the deal is Opposite Sex, starring Mena Suvari and Kristin Chenoweth. This is the latest such tie-up for the indie content distributor, which earlier this inked a producer deal with Marco Weber’s Rapid Eye Film for 15 genre pics. Cinedigm also signed on with Viva Pictures Distribution, and as part of that pact in March acquired U.S. distribution rights to Antboy, based on the Danish comic book.
(Los Angeles, CA; June 9, 2014) – Cinedigm (NASDAQ: CIDM), the leading independent content distributor in the U.S., has appointed Jeffrey Edell as Chief Financial Officer. The appointment, effective immediately, was announced today by Cinedigm Chairman and CEO Chris McGurk. In addition to his CFO role, Edell will be a part of the Company’s Management Committee.
“I am thrilled that Jeff has joined our team,” said McGurk. “Having worked closely with him at DIC Entertainment while I was a Director there, I know of his clear ability to create and manage a first class financial effort and team at a public company. Holding a CPA and with significant private and public company experience, as well as a deep track record in accounting, reporting, M&A activities and business development, Jeff will be a great asset to Cinedigm as we continue to focus on our ambitious business objectives.”
Norman Lear, the greatest TV comedy producer of all time, can’t get a series made these days, he says. The Producer’s Guild of America may have named its episodic comedy award after Lear, but good luck getting a Lear-made episodic comedy on the air now. In a TV-transforming run through the 1970s, Lear tackled the most controversial issues of the time – including racism, abortion, sexism and so much else – but he says the only time he’s ever been censored is today.
Lear, now almost 92 and reflecting on his legendary career in a packed session at the PGA’s Produced By conference, said no one ever told him, “You can’t do that,” while he was producing ground-breaking shows such as All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons. But today, when he pitches a comedy that’s set in a retirement village, nobody wants to hear about it.
“They don’t want to touch the demographic,”he said. Apparently, he said, there’s only room for one old person (that would be another comedy veteran, Betty White, who actually is a few months older than Lear) on network television today.
The name of the show Lear has been pitching is Guess Who’s Dead?, a title that got a huge laugh from the audience. It is particularly ironic that Lear, whose People for the American Way organization long has fought for free …
A24‘s Obvious Child opened to solid numbers in a crowded weekend some other distributors likely would rather forget. The abortion comedy, based on a 2009 short by filmmaker Gillian Robespierre, bowed with $81K in three theaters in NYC and LA for a robust $27K per-theater average. A24, which has had a nice winning streak of recent openers including Under The Skin (which opened in April with a $35K PTA in four theaters), was pleased with Obvious Child‘s results when reporting numbers Sunday:
“Sundance hit Obvious Child opened with the highest per screen (average) in the country this weekend and is now poised to become one of the breakout hits of summer. The hilarious and crowd-pleasing romantic comedy, featuring a star-making performance by actress/comedian Jenny Slate, received overwhelmingly positive reviews (over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes) and incredible word-of-mouth, including continual love throughout social media. The ‘revolutionary’ film that MTV called “your next obsession” saw sell-out shows on both Friday and Saturday.” A24 will expand the film to top markets over the next three weeks and go nationwide June 27.
Specialty Box Office: Reichardt’s ‘Night Moves’ Strong; Docs ‘Korengal’ And ‘Elena’ Bow Decently; James McAvoy Opens ‘Filth’
The first half of 2014 will not go down as memorable overall for specialties despite a weekend that boasted some star star power against Maleficent and the continuation of X-Men. Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves opened with single runs in NYC and L.A. this weekend matching up Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard as eco-extremists in the Northwest. It came in with a decent $12,050 PTA ($24,100 gross) with sold-out showings from its bow at the Arclight. “We’re very happy with the strong opening this weekend. We anticipate continued critical acclaim and positive word of mouth fueling the expansion into both arthouses and select commercial venues across the country,” distributor Cinedigm noted Sunday. Night Moves will add theaters in Boston, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle and Portland.
Related: Box Office: Disney’s ‘Maleficent’ Casts $68M+ To $69M+ Spell; ‘A Million Ways To Die In the West’ Flatlines; ‘X-Men’ Falls About 64%
Magnolia Pictures opened two films this weekend. James McAvoy starrer Filth and festival favorite We Are The Best! opened in limited runs with slow results. Filth bowed in a pair of theaters grossing $7,500 ($3,750 PTA) while Swedish feature We Are The Best! actually did better with a $21K gross ($7K average). Magnolia was refreshingly honest Sunday and found a silver-lining for Best: “We were disappointed in the opening day’s gross, but we always knew this was an underdog film and very difficult to market. We also knew audiences loved it and it’s gotten some of the best reviews we’ve received in our company’s history. We had an enormous 125% jump Friday over Saturday and we think that the word of mouth is going to keep this film rolling all through the summer.”
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Lucky Them’, ‘Night Moves’, ‘The Grand Seduction’, ‘Filth’, ‘We Are The Best!’, ‘Before You Know It’, ‘Emoticon ;)’
The likes of Maleficent, A Million Ways To Die In The West or X-Men haven’t completely scared away the Specialties hoping to slice a bit of box office cash from those who go against the grain. Some of this week’s slew of newcomers even have a number of stars to boost their chances. Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church star in IFC Films’ Lucky Them, while Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard are in Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves via Cinedigm. Taylor Kitsch goes indie in eOne’s The Grand Seduction and James McAvoy front’s Filth from Magnolia. The distributor is also rolling out Swedish director Lukas Moodysson’s festival favorite We Are The Best! and Indican is bowing Emoticon ;). And the doc of the weekend goes to PJ Raval’s Before You Know It spotlighting LGBT senior citizens with release partner The Film Collaborative.
Director: Megan Griffiths
Writers: Huck Botko, Caroline Sherman (original idea), Emily Wachtel
Cast: Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church, Oliver Platt, Ryan Eggold, Nina Arianda, Ahna O’Reilly, Lynn Shelton, Johnny Depp
Distributor: IFC Films
Writer and producer Emily Wachtel had worked on the script for what would be Lucky Them for over a decade. Fellow producer Amy Hobby joined the project several years ago for the story that originally was destined to shoot in New York with a different director. The project changed coasts, added Megan Griffiths at the helm and scored a name cast with persistence paying off in the end on one star. The drama centers on a rock journalist who is assigned to explore her own past. “We met Megan [Griffiths] in Seattle and realized it felt better to shoot there,” said Amy Hobby. “Once she was on board a bit of money came in. Plus in winter you can get the best crew.” Emily Wachtel suggested Toni Collette as a lead and Thomas Haden Church’s role as Charlie was written for him specifically.
Over The Cannes Transom: ‘Sea Of Trees’ Awash In Sales; Music Box Grabs Fortnight’s ‘Gett’; Hairun, Village Roadshow Climb ‘Mountain Cry’; Cinedigm Picks Up ‘Stream’; More
Alex Walton and Ken Kao’s new production, finance and sales outfit Bloom got off to a strong start in Cannes this week with one of the more sought after projects in town, Gus Van Sant’s Sea Of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey. The film has now virtually sold out around the world after Van Sant and McConaughey came to the Croisette to share their vision with buyers. Among the territories that closed are the UK, Australia and New Zealand (eOne), Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and pan-Latin America (Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions), France (SND), India and Pakistan (Apsara), Israel (United King), Italy (Lucky Red), Japan (Parco) and CIS and the Baltic States (West). McConaughey stars in the drama about a man who journeys to the Sea Of Trees, a dense forest lapping the foothills of Mount Fuji and described by many as the perfect place to die. There, he encounters a Japanese man who has also lost his way. Ken Watanabe and Naomi Watts are in negotiations. The film will start production in July.
Music Box Films has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz’s Gett, The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem. FilmsDistribution’s Nicolas Brigaud Robert confirms the deal on the Directors’ Fortnight title that premiered to glowing reviews. The story follows a woman’s five-year fight to obtain her divorce in Israel’s Rabbinical Court. Set entirely inside the courtroom, the film centers on Viviane and her lawyer who must face the uncompromising attitude of Elisha, the husband — he keeps refusing the divorce even though they’ve been separated for years.
The Sundance Institute‘s summer event in Los Angeles has a new name, format and location. Next Fest — which is adding music to this year’s lineup — is set for August 8-10 at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, with a kickoff event August 7 at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Next Fest is an extension of the Next section at the Sundance Film Festival, which showcases stylistically adventurous and bold films. Programming announcements will be made in the summer for the fest, which last year was called Next Weekend. “At its core, Next Fest is about celebrating artists who push creative boundaries,” Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper said. “This unique program presents an opportunity for audiences in Los Angeles to explore the outer edges and intersections of film and music.”
Over The Cannes Transom: 13 Films Takes Int’l On ‘Very Good Girls’; ‘Belle And Sebastian’ Acquired By Film Movement; Spotlight Falls On Checkov-Inspired ‘Days And Nights’; Stellan Skarsgård Boards ‘Long Ships’; More
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13 Films will be repping international sales on Naomi Foner’s Very Good Girls for Herrick Entertainment, the film and stage financing division of investment firm The Herrick Company, Inc. Pic stars Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as two girls determined to lose their virginity before college who fall for the same guy. Boyd Holbrook, Demi Moore, Kiernan Shipka, Clark Gregg, Peter Skaarsgard, and Ellen Barkin also star in Foner’s directorial debut which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Tribeca Film has domestic rights and is releasing the film stateside in June on VOD and in theaters July 25. Norton Herrick, Michael London, Janice Williams and Mary Jane Skalski are producers and Hawk Koch, Gale Anne Hurd, Peter D. Graves and Lee Clay exec produced the pic.
NY-based Film Movement has acquired Belle and Sebastian (Belle et Sébastien), director Nicolas Vanier’s adaptation of the classic French tale about a young boy, his sheepdog, and their friendship in the chaos of WWII. Pic has already scored almost $23M at the French box office, thanks in part to the region’s familiarity with the property which was first created as a 1960s television series. Film Movement snapped up U.S. rights to the PG family pic as part of its strategy to broaden distribution offerings. Film Movement’s Adley Garterstein negotiated the deal with Gaumont’s Yohann Comte. The company recently picked up Berlin Silver Bear-winner Stations of the Cross.
Deadline Hollywood has been breaking news at the Cannes Film Festival for quite some time. But this year, we decided to close our laptops and turn off our phones (just for a little bit) and hold what is the first of many big splashes on the Croisette. Deadline Hollywood’s Cocktails on the Croisette — sponsored by American Express, The Consulate General of France in Los Angeles and the Film Fraternity — drew a plethora of studio executives, filmmakers and celebrities Friday afternoon at the 67th annual fest. Hosts Co-Editor-In-Chief Mike Fleming Jr., Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and International Editor Nancy Tartaglione were on hand at the exclusive La Gold Plage to raise a glass of champagne to executives from Sony Pictures Classics, Lionsgate, Cinedigm, Blumhouse Productions, Picturehouse, IM Global, Film4, Paradigm and Resolution Agency, among others. Click on a photo to launch the slideshow:
EXCLUSIVE: Cannes is racking up some pretty prolific sales, and that’s not even limited to the films playing here or being sold here. I’ve heard that Cinedigm is near closing on an acquisition deal for Song One, the Kate Barker-Froyland-directed film that stars Anne Hathaway and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last January, but it’s closing here and calls for a multi-platform opening. Hathaway plays a young archaeologist whose street musician brother is hit by a car and falls into a coma. She develops a relationship with her brother’s favorite musician (played by Johnny Flynn). The deal will include a theatrical release through Film Arcade and it’s a near 7-figure minimum guarantee with a P&A commitment.
Related: Cannes: Directors To Watch
The film is financed by Worldview Entertainment, and produced by Chris Woodrow, Molly Conners, Jonathan Demme, Hathaway and Marc Platt. Hathaway is completely on board with the release plan through Film Arcade and Chris McGurk’s Cinedigm, and she will promote the film’s release aggressively. CAA brokered the deal. Lotus is selling international.
Related: Cannes 2014: A Look At Hot Titles
This is the latest installment in the exhibition consolidation saga — and a logical one in light of Carmike‘s stated goal to build itself to 3,000 screens from about 2,660 in time for the onslaught of potential blockbuster sequels Hollywood plans to release in 2015. Westfield, NJ-based Digiplex has 206 screens in 21 locations and agreements to pick up five theaters with 53 screens, and introduces Carmike to four states: Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland and New Hampshire. Carmike can flex its financial muscle: It owns about 19% of cinema ad sales company Screenvision, which National CineMedia recently agreed to buy for $375M.
Digiplex — the short name for Digital Cinema Destinations Corp — is an interesting target. CEO Bud Mayo, who controls 39.5% of the voting shares, is well known in the industry. He co-founded Clearview Cinema, sold to Cablevision in 1998, and then co-founded Cinedigm, which he ran until 2010 when he founded Digiplex. Over that period he became a vocal supporter of digital projection and alternative content. He urged his colleagues, at the recent CinemaCon industry convention, to step up their efforts to find concerts and sports events to show on typically slow weeknights.
But small theater chains have struggled: Digiplex shares lost more than 23% of their value since the company went public in 2012. They’re up 8.3% in after-market trading today, following the announcement of the deal with Carmike. It has agreed to exchange 0.1775 of its shares for each of Digiplex’s 7.93M shares. That implies a $45.3M value for Digiplex — a 15.4% premium based on its market value today, based on Carmike’s closing price of $32.19 a share.
Here’s the companies’ release:
EXCLUSIVE: Charlize Theron’s Denver and Delilah has optioned the best-selling Susannah Cahalan book Brain On Fire: My Month Of Madness, a memoir that follows a young woman’s terrifying descent into insanity. Dakota Fanning is attached to star as Cahalan. Theron will produce with her D&D partners Beth Kono and AJ Dix.
The company just wrapped Dark Places, an adaptation of the novel by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. Theron stars in that film, but Brain on Fire is an example of the production company bolstering its slate. Theron and Fanning have a connection: For many years, both were managed by the late J.J. Harris.
Fanning next will be seen in Cinedigm’s Night Moves, and this fall she will be seen in The Last of Robin Hood and Franny. She is in production on Gerardo Naranjo’s untitled 1980s-set punk rock pic.
Theron and Cahalan are repped by WME. Fanning is repped by CAA.
Cinedigm Corp. has pacted with Rapid Eye Film on a 15-film distribution and production arrangement that will see the companies partner on three to four genre films per year. The deal covers North American release and distribution on Rapid Eye Films-produced pictures, which Cinedigm will handle theatrical and home entertainment on as Rapid Eye Films produces and manages marketing. Cinedigm will be involved in production from start to finish while the selected Rapid Eye indie genre titles get guaranteed multiplatform distribution. Rapid Eye’s most recent release is company founder Marco Weber’s California Scheming starring Gia Mantegna and Chad Lowe. Weber is the producer of such films as Igby Goes Down, The 13th Floor, Unthinkable, The Informers, and Fireflies in the Garden. Weber and attorney Paul Mayersohn of Surpin and Mayersohn negotiated the deal with Cinedigm’s EVP Acquisitions Yolanda Macias.
The 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards were held tonight at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, honoring 12 of their 29 media categories, with comedian Ross Mathews hosting. Previously announced honorees include Jennifer Lopez, who received the Vanguard Award, a kudo that honors artists and media professionals whose work has increased the profile and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions is behind the ABC Family series The Fosters, which portrays a blended family with lesbian parents. Also Orange Is The New Black star Laverne Cox was presented with the Stephen F. Kolzak award by Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page. The honor, named after a casting director who was a LGBT crusader, is presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality. The GLAAD Media Awards honor those who display a fair, accurate and inclusive representation of the LGBT community and their issues. Additional awards will be presented at the org’s New York City event on Saturday, May 3.
Announced winners tonight include:
Pioneer Award (presented by Wilson Cruz)
Vanguard Award (presented by Rita Moreno)
Stephen F. Kolzak Award (presented by Ellen Page)
Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black
International Advocate for Change Award
Manny de Guerre, founder of the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia
TIE: Bridegroom …
Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey star in writer-director Nacho Vigalondo‘s Open Windows, which premiered this month at SXSW in the Visions section. Cinedigm has landed U.S. distribution rights and plans a late summer or early fall 2014 release. Wood stars as Nick, who wins an online contest to have dinner with the hottest actress on earth Jill (Grey). When she cancels, he gets a call from a guy named Chord who offers to make it up to Nick by giving him the tools to spy on Jill from his computer for the rest of the night. Then the truth begins to reveal itself, with Nick playing a part in a much bigger plan. “Nacho is one of the most innovative and visionary filmmakers working today. And his talents are once again on full display in this high-tech, action-packed suspense film,” said Vincent Scordino, SVP Theatrical Releasing at Cinedigm. The deal was made by Cinedigm director of acquisitions Kristin Harris and CAA for the filmmakers.
The markets closed the books today on Q1 trading, and it began with a shrug for media stocks. The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index fell 2.4% over the three-month period, behind the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500, which was +1.3%. Sony was the top-performing Big Media company, with shares +10.6%. It was trailed by Disney (+4.8%), Viacom (-2.7%), CBS (-3.0%), Comcast (-3.7%), News Corp (-4.4%), Time Warner (-6.3%) and Fox (-9.1%). There’s a much wider gap between the best and worst performers among other media companies we track most closely. World Wrestling Entertainment led the pack, helped by its launch of WWE Network, a $9.99 a month live streaming video service. Its shares appreciated 74.2% — followed by Barnes & Noble (+39.8%), RealD (+30.8%), and Cinedigm (+26.7%). At the bottom we find DreamWorks Animation (-25.2%), National CineMedia (-24.9%), and Sinclair Broadcasting (-24.2%).
Here’s how individual companies fared: