At this year’s Sundance several buyers were interested in the Blackfish, the documentary about the notorious killer whale Tilikum that is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top trainer. Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films, which kicked off its sales activities during the festival, ended up combining on the rights deal. Magnolia releases it July 19 and CNN will air it sometime in the fall.
CNN Films has picked up domestic TV rights to the nuclear power documentary Pandora’s Promise. The cable news network will air the Robert Stone-directed film in November after its theatrical release. Pandora’s Promise made its U.S. debut this year at the Sundance Film Festival. Going inside the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan and to Chernobyl, the Oscar-nominated Stone chronicles how nuclear power could provide a solution to climate change and the personal stories of environmentalists and energy experts who have shifted from being anti-nuclear to favoring of the source. The deal with CNN Films was negotiated by Dan Cogan of Impact Partners and Andrew Herwitz, president of the Film Sales Company on behalf of the filmmakers. Abramorama is handling the film’s domestic theatrical distribution.
Regal Cinemas has picked up Girl Rising, an indie directed by Richard E. Robbins that until now had only been available via on-demand theatrical distribution at crowdsourcing site Gathr. Narrated by Cate Blanchett, Priyanka Chopra, Selena Gomez, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, Alicia Keys, Chloë Grace Moretz, Liam Neeson, Frieda Pinto, Meryl Streep and Kerry Washington, the social-issues documentary details stories of girls from around the globe who are fighting against their circumstances. Regal has set a week-long engagement starting April 19 in more than 150 theaters across the country. At Gathr, the film generated more than 17,000 screening requests with 65,000 tickets reserved.
“With Girl Rising, we took a risk on a new model of on-demand theatrical distribution, and the leap of faith paid dividends,” said The Documentary Group’s Tom Yellin. “We’ve established a new model for impact filmmaking, to build a movement – and an audience — around a film. Regal joining this effort means an opportunity for people everywhere to see this beautiful and important film.” A portion of all ticket sales at Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres will go to the 10×10 Fund for Girls Education.
EXCLUSIVE: CNN Films has picked up U.S. TV rights to Escape Fire: The Fight To Rescue American Healthcare. The two-hour film will air on CNN on March 10 at 8 PM and 11 PM, with encore broadcasts March 16. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival alumni about the flaws, failings and patchwork nature of the nation’s healthcare system was produced and directed by Matthew Heineman and Oscar-nominee Susan Froemke. “CNN Films is very pleased to bring this documentary to television. The physical health of our nation and the cost of healthcare, impact every current fiscal challenge we face. This compelling film gives us an explanation of some of the factors that have contributed to our broken system and explains why we urgently need to fix it,” said network Worldwide president Jeff Zucker in a statement Friday.