Magnolia Pictures acquired U.S. theatrical, VOD and home entertainment rights to Whitey: The United States Of America V. James J Bulger, the Joe Berlinger-directed docu on notorious Irish gangster Whitey Bulger and the massive law enforcement corruption that allowed his reign of terror to proliferate in South Boston and enable his escape from justice. The film premiered at Sundance and Berlinger Co-directed Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster and the Paradise Lost trilogy. Pic was produced by RadicalMedia for CNN Films.
Magnolia will be giving the film a day and date theatrical and on demand release this June, followed by a broadcast on CNN later this year. Berlinger takes a surprising angle. While it was long believed that Bulger ran his operation while he was an FBI informant, Berlinger investigates whether that was actually the case. He certainly operated under the noses of law enforcement. But was he a rat?
“Whitey is a jaw-dropping true crime epic—a real life The Departed,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “As longtime admirers of Joe Berlinger’s films, we’re excited to be working together on this rigorous, thoroughly entertaining and tough-as-nails film.”
Participant Media, Paramount Home Media Distribution, and Samuel Goldwyn Films will jointly release CNN Films’ documentary Ivory Tower, the Sundance Film Festival pic chronicling crisis within the American education system. Directed by Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times), Ivory Tower questions the value of higher education among spiraling tuition fees and student debt. Pic will hit theaters in June via Samuel Goldwyn with Paramount handling DVD and home entertainment. Paramount is also handling distribution outside of the U.S. Participant previously released Rossi’s Page One and teamed up on education-focused campaigns for Paramount Vantage’s Waiting For Superman and CBS/Pivot’s Teach. The company will spearhead a social action campaign for Ivory Tower this summer. Read More »
There are plenty of people working on more than one movie at the Sundance Film Festival this year, but only one musical act pulled double duty Sunday. On a packed party night in Park City, Damon Albarn played a 5-song set at the Sundance Channel HQ in the evening in front of Maggie Gyllenhaal and more. He then hustled down the block to the YouTube On Main Street storefront for a slightly longer show in front of 150 guests at 11 PM. At the two invite-only SRO events, the Blur and Gorillaz frontman performed ballads from both his bands and his upcoming solo album. In both gigs, a string quartet and a keyboardist backed up Albarn, who played acoustic guitar. Read More »
BREAKING: In the first deal on the ground here at Sundance, Lionsgate and CNN Films have acquired North American rights to the documentary Dinosaur 13. The film will be released theatrically with a North American broadcast premiere on CNN/U.S. Dinosaur 13 is directed and produced by Todd Miller. The picture premiered last night.
On August 12, 1990, in the badlands of South Dakota, paleontologist Peter Larson and his team from the Black Hills Institute unearthed the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found. It was the find of a lifetime — the world’s greatest dinosaur discovery. They named their dinosaur Sue. Two years later, when the FBI and National Guard showed up, battle lines were drawn over Sue’s ownership. The U.S. government, world-class museums, Native American tribal nations, and competing paleontologists became the Goliath to Larson’s David as he and his team fought to keep their dinosaur and wrestled with intimidation tactics that threatened their freedom. Dinosaur 13 chronicles the fierce battle to possess a 65-million-year-old treasure.
In advance of the 2013 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA), CNN Films has acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to DOCUMENTED, a feature-length film that explores the life – and journey out of the shadows – led by undocumented immigrant and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, it was announced today. DOCUMENTED will premiere on CNN/U.S. in the second quarter of 2014 as a CNN Films broadcast, following its international bow at the IDFA and its theatrical distribution in the United States. DOCUMENTED is written and directed by Vargas, with technology entrepreneur Sean Parker, Matthew Hiltzik (“Paper Clips”), Scott Budnick (“The Hangover” series), and philanthropist Liz Simons as executive producers.
It’s “totally ridiculous and stupid” to suggest Fox News Channel will lose access to Republican primary debates in 2016 if Fox TV Studios produces NBC’s proposed Hillary Clinton miniseries, said the GOP’s Reince Priebus today. “The big question for me is what company is putting it on the air, who’s doing the work. I’m not interested in if they are using the same caterer or whether they all drink Diet Coke. I’m not boycotting Diane Lane, I’m going to boycott the companies that put the miniseries and documentaries on the air for the American people to view,” the Republican National Committee chair told CNN’s Candy Crowley Sunday. “The company that puts these things on the air to promote Hillary Clinton, including CNN, is the company that is not going to be involved in our debates. Period,” he added of his threat last week to pull the GOP out of any debates CNN and NBC are involved in because of their Clinton productions. NBC Entertainment boss Greenblatt said on July 27 that his network would be making a four-hour miniseries with Lane starring as Clinton. CNN Films announced on July 29 that it was making a feature-length documentary about the assumed Presidential candidate to be directed by Oscar-winner Charles Ferguson. As Deadline reported on August 9, Fox TV Studios is in preliminary discussions with NBC about the Courtney Hunt-written mini. Fox TV Studios is a unit … Read More »
The Hillary Clinton production industry continues to grow. Just two days after NBC announced that it will air a miniseries about her starring Diane Lane, CNN Films today said that they are making a feature-length documentary about the onetime senator, Secretary of State and First Lady. The film will be directed by Oscar-winner Charles Ferguson. In pre-production, the unnamed docu will debut theatrically in 2014 before being shown on the cable news network. No release date or airdate has been set. “I am very excited to be making a film about Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose fascinating life and work embody so many of America’s, and the world’s, hopes and challenges”, said Ferguson, who won the 2011 Documentary Feature Oscar for Inside Job, about the U.S. financial meltdown. “I am delighted and extremely grateful that CNN Films has given me this remarkable opportunity”.
The feature-length documentary from writer-director Ky Dickens looks at the emotional aftermath facing lone survivors of commercial plane crashes. Sole Survivor is having its premiere tomorrow at the Traverse City Film Festival, and it will appear on CNN early next year following a theatrical release. The premise: there have been 14 major airplane crashes with a sole survivor in the history of commercial aviation, and the docu focuses on one, George Lamson Jr, who as a teenager nearly three decades ago was the lone survivor of the Galaxy Airlines flight 203 crash near Reno, NV. He seeks the community of the other 13, all of whom have their own unique journey toward healing. “We are delighted about Sole Survivor as our latest CNN Films acquisition,” said Amy Entelis, SVP Talent and Content Development for CNN Worldwide. “We think the universal life questions explored in this film will resonate with our viewers — who will learn that there was so much more to these stories.” CNN Films has been ramping up its acquisitions activity since debuting as a buyer at Sundance this year, making deals on documentaries including Our Nixon, Pandora’s Promise and most recently the killer whale pic Blackfish to air on the network.
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. Read More »
CNN Films and Cinedigm have picked up Our Nixonfor TV broadcast and theatrical releasethis summer. The film of Super 8 home movie footage of Richard Nixon and his administration is set to debut on CNN in August and will be released theatrically by Cinedigm the same month. Directed by Penny Lane, the film consists of footage shot by the 37th President’s top aides H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Dwight Chapin from 1969-1973. Our Nixon had its North American premiere at this year’s SXSW. Production and acquisition unit CNN Films was formed in October and made its debut as a buyer at this year’s Sundance.
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. Read More »
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.
CNN is covering the Sundance Film Festival this year but the news network’s recently created film division is making its debut in Park City as a buyer too. Vinnie Malhotra, SVP of development and acquisitions for CNN Worldwide, is on the ground looking at documentaries to acquire for CNN Films. Formed in October, this is CNN Films’ first time as a buyer at Sundance. Amy Entelis, SVP of talent and content development for CNN Worldwide is also at the Festival looking for acquisitions. CNN Films is also using its presence at Sundance to announce a trio of documentaries today that it has previously acquired for broadcast. The network plans to air Life Itself in 2014 from executive producers Martin Scorsese and Steve Zaillian. Based on the best-selling memoir by Roger Ebert, the film is produced by Kartemquin Films and Zaillian and Garrett Basch’s Film Rites. In production, Life Itself will have a theatrical release before airing on CNN next year. The network has also picked up an as yet untitled documentary on the days following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The co-directorial team of Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein plans to examine some of the striking photography from 9/11 … Read More »