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Gravitas Ventures Picks Up Sundance Comedy ‘Ass Backwards’

By | Wednesday July 10, 2013 @ 2:33pm PDT

Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael wrote and star in director Chris Nelson’s lowbrow road-trip comedy, which Gravitas Ventures will release September 30 on VOD and in theaters November 8. Ass Backwards follows two self-proclaimed stylish New Yorkers with a fragile grip on reality who take a road trip back to their hometown to claim the beauty pageant crown that eluded them as children. Heather Rae and Molly Conners produced the film, which debuted at Sundance in January and features familiar co-stars including Alicia Silverstone, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Cryer, Brian Geraghty and Bob Odenkirk. The deal was negotiated by Gravitas VP Acquisitions Melanie Miller and UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers.

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Morgan Spurlock’s Comic-Con Documentary Acquired By Wrekin Hill

By | Tuesday December 6, 2011 @ 11:58am PST
Mike Fleming

Los Angeles, CA (December 6, 2011) — Chris Ball, President and CEO of LA-based film production and distribution company Wrekin Hill Entertainment, and Joel Weinshanker, President and CEO of the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA), a movie merchandising powerhouse that has become an essential tastemaker for the all-important Fanboy culture, announced today that they have jointly acquired Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s fanboy documentary COMIC-CON EPISODE IV – A FAN’S HOPE. The film will be released theatrically in Spring 2012 in conjunction with a multi-city tour of the film with major events for film and merchandising fans across the nation. Additionally, as a supplement to Wrekin Hill and NECA’s plans, the film will screen at various fan gatherings and have an online presence via one of the film’s producers, Thomas Tull, and his Legendary Entertainment.

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IFC Films Lands Bruce Beresford’s Toronto Title ‘Peace, Love & Misunderstanding’

By | Monday December 5, 2011 @ 3:11pm PST

IFC Films has acquired North American rights to Bruce Beresford’s dramatic comedy Peace, Love & Misunderstanding, which stars Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Chace Crawford, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Elizabeth Olsen and first screened at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. The plot centers on an uptight New York lawyer (Keener) who brings her teenagers to the farmhouse of her hippie mom (Fonda) for a vacation. BCDF Pictures’ Brice Dal Farra, Claude Dal Farra, Lauren Munsch, and Jonathan Burkhart were producers on the project, with co-writers Christina Mengert and Joseph Muszynski also executive producing. The deal was negotiated by Sundance Selects/IFC Films’ Arianna Bocco with CAA on behalf of the filmmakers.

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Variance Acquires Indie ‘Trouble With Bliss’ With ‘Dexter’s Michael C. Hall

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 10:53am PST
Mike Fleming

Variance Films has acquired U.S. theatrical rights to The Trouble With Bliss, the Michael Knowles-directed film that stars Michael C. Hall, Brie Larson, Peter Fonda, Lucy Liu, Brad William Henke, Sarah Shahi, and Chris Messina. The film will get a theatrical release on March 23, 2012, per Variance founder Dylan Marchetti. Hall plays 35-year-old Morris Bliss, who is clamped firmly in the jaws of New York City inertia. He wants to travel but has no money; he needs a job but has no prospects; and he still shares an apartment with his widowed father (Fonda), who treats Morris with a mix of disdain and exasperation. When he finds himself juggling a bizarre relationship with the sexually precocious 18-year-old daughter (Larson) of a former classmate and the advances of his very forward neighbor (Liu), Morris realizes that even though his life is unraveling, it’s also opening up in ways that are long overdue.

The Trouble With Bliss absolutely charmed me,” said Marchetti. “The characters aren’t phony, the lessons learned aren’t clichéd, and any chance to see a cast like this work together is worth it in my book.” Knowles wrote the script with Douglas Light, based on Light’s novel East Fifth Bliss. The film was acquired after it played the Newport Beach Film Festival. It was produced by John Ramos and John Will.

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Dimension Acquires Rights To Michael Keaton Thriller ‘Penthouse North’

By | Friday November 4, 2011 @ 2:00pm PDT

Dimension Films has landed U.S. distribution rights to director Joseph Ruben’s thriller Penthouse North, which stars Michael Keaton and Michelle Monaghan and begins shooting in December in Ottawa. David Loughery wrote the script and is producing with Ruben, Jeff Sackman and Michael Baker; Jon Shiffman is executive producer. The story centers on a sadistic criminal named Hollander (Keaton) who plays a cat-and-mouse game with Sara Taylor (Monaghan), a photojournalist who was blinded in Iraq and also has a fortune of stolen diamonds hidden in her apartment. Hollander uses psychological and physical torture in an effort to find them, but Sara fights back. Dimension’s Andrew Kramer and Michal Steinberg negotiated the deal with Sackman and ICM, which helped package the film and co-repped U.S. rights.

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Toronto: Magnolia Acquires U.S. Rights To Fernando Meirelles Drama ’360′

Mike Fleming

Magnolia Pictures bought U.S. rights to 360, the Fernando Meirelles-directed ensemble drama that stars Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Ben Foster, Jamel Debbouze and Moritz Bleibtreu. The film is a series of intersecting storylines that deal with love and infidelity, written by Peter Morgan and inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s Reigen, the play most famously turned into the 1950s film La Ronde. 360 was high on buyer lists coming into Toronto, but despite the pedigree and starpower, many of the distributors found the subject matter too challenging to see a wide release. The film recently was chosen as the opening-night film of the BFI 55th London Film Festival. “Fernando Meirelles and Peter Morgan are two exceptional talents that have crafted a unique and truly special picture,” Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said. He called it “a stunningly well made film, and a fantastic showcase for some of the most talented actors from around the world.” The film was produced by Andrew Eaton and David Linde, with Chris Hanley, Danny Krausz and Emanuel Michael. UTA Independent Film Group made the deal.

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Magnolia Pictures Acquires ‘Roadie’

By | Tuesday October 18, 2011 @ 12:33pm PDT

Magnolia Pictures has landed U.S. rights to the Michael Cuesta-directed drama Roadie, which stars Ron Eldard as a longtime Blue Oyster Cult roadie who is fired and returns home to Queens, where he has a wild encounter with a pair of old high school buddies. Bobby Cannavale, Jill Hennessy and Lois Smith co-star. The film is written by Gerald Cuesta and Michael Cuesta, and produced by Mike Downey and Sirad Balducci. Magnolia will release the film through its Ultra VOD program; it will be available on those platforms beginning December 2 and be released theatrically on January 6, 2012. Magnolia’s Dori Begley and Chris Matson negotiated the deal with Preferred Content’s Kevin Iwashina and Christine D’Souza and WME’s Graham Taylor repping the filmmakers.

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Sundance Selects On ‘The Loneliest Planet’

By | Tuesday October 11, 2011 @ 2:28pm PDT

IFC’s Sundance Selects has acquired North American rights to writer-director Julia Loktev’s festival drama The Loneliest Planet, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Hani Furstenberg and Bidzina Gujabidze in the tale of a young couple backpacking in the Caucasus mountains who find their love tested when the threat of violence enters their idyllic journey. Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Marie Therese Guirgis, and Helge Albers produced the movie, which has played at Locarno, Toronto and the New York festivals. This is the second pairing of IFC and Loktev after IFC Films released her Day Night Day Night in 2007.

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Sundance Selects Lands ‘First Position’

By | Thursday October 6, 2011 @ 3:15pm PDT

IFC’s Sundance Selects has landed North American rights to Bess Kargman’s documentary First Position, which offers a glimpse at six aspiring ballet dancers in training for a prestigious competition. The film bowed at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival and was first runner-up for best documentary, and has fest dates in Vancouver and the Hamptons planned. The deal was negotiated by Arianna Bocco and Betsy Rodgers for Sundance Selects with Josh Braun at Submarine on behalf of the filmmaker. The film also landed a six-figure pact with Hopscotch for distribution in Australia and New Zealand.

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Toronto: Lionsgate Acquires Hot Title ‘Friends With Kids’

Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: Deadline’s Mike Fleming virtually called this deal on Tuesday (then delayed confirmation after sellers indicated that their auction wasn’t fully done). Now it’s official: Friends With Kids, the hot Toronto Film Festival romantic comedy co-starring Jennifer Westfeldt — which she directed, wrote and co-produced with longtime boyfriend Jon Hamm, who also has a supporting role — has indeed officially sold to Lionsgate. This according to Westfeldt, who broke the news to me at the late-night AMC Emmy celebration party, saying she herself learned halfway through Sunday night’s Emmy ceremony that the deal was done. “The sale just closed while the Emmys were going on — we’re thrilled,” she said, even while lamenting Hamm’s fourth consecutive loss in the Best Actor in a Drama Series category (Mad Men did win an unprecedented fourth Emmy for Drama Series). The sale certainly makes Hamm’s Emmy loss easier to take as Friends With Kids was one of the hottest titles in Toronto to still be available. Read More »

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Toronto: IFC Acquires Lynn Shelton’s ‘Your Sister’s Sister’

By | Wednesday September 14, 2011 @ 2:26pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: IFC has acquired North American and Latin American distribution rights to Your Sister’s Sister, the Lynn Shelton comedic drama that premiered Sunday at the Toronto Film Festival.  At the same time, Studio Canal acquired UK rights and Madman acquired Australian and New Zealand rights.

In the film, a bereft and confused man still mourning the recent death of his brother finds love and direction in a most unexpected place. Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass and Mike Birbiglia star. The deal, made by UTA and Submarine,  is low-seven-figure minimum guarantee for the domestic and foreign deals, and the plan is for a theatrical release in 2012. Among those circling were eOne, Samuel Goldwyn, Magnolia, Oscilloscope and Miramax, the latter of which would have secured a distribution partner.

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Toronto: Palisades Tartan Acquires Docu About Jailed Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi; Co-Director Stopped From Attending Fest

By | Wednesday September 14, 2011 @ 11:42am PDT

Palisades Tartan Films has acquired U.S. and UK rights to This Is Not A Film, whose subject is Iranian director Jafar Panahi, under house arrest in his native country after being jailed and banned from filmmaking for 20 years for supporting the opposition party in Iran’s 2009 elections. Essentially, he was vilified for publicly mourning protesters killed following the presidential elections. The deal comes as the film’s co-director with Panahi, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, was detained at the Tehran airport on his way to Toronto to attend its screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. “This film is of undeniable importance today, especially amid the current Middle Eastern unrest, and we look forward to sharing this powerful and significant film,” said Soumya Sriraman, Palisades Tartan president and CEO Soumya Sriraman said in announcing the rights deal. The 75-minute documentary was shot in secret on an iPhone by Mirtahmasb and was smuggled into France as a last-minute submission to May’s Cannes Film Festival, where it had its world premiere. It chronicles the day-to-day life of Panahi, who also is banned from conducting interviews with foreign press, and shows him talking with Mirtahmasb about his case and opining on the art of filmmaking.

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Toronto: Magnolia Lands Bobcat Goldthwait Comedy ‘God Bless America’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Magnolia Pictures is closing a world rights deal for God Bless America, the Bobcat Goldthwait-directed killing spree comedy. The film premiered over the weekend in the Midnight Madness program. I’ve heard it’s a high six figure deal and that Magnolia will release through Magnet, and the film will be an Ultra VOD title in 2012. That means it will start as a premium VOD title, then play theatrically in at least 25 cities.

Satire is about a guy who has nothing going right and could be terminally ill. He takes a gun and decides to kill the stupidest, cruelest and most repugnant members of society, assisted by a 16-year-old accomplice. Joel Murray plays the shooter, and Tara Lynn Barr plays the sidekick. Sean McKittrick and Jeff Culotta are the producers. Cassian Elwes and Preferred Content’s Kevin Iwashina and Christine D’Souza brokered the deal.

It is the second deal in the last 24 hours for the Mark Cuban- and Todd Wagner-owned company, which acquired the hockey comedy Goon last night.

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Toronto: Film Movement Buys ‘Historias’

By | Monday September 12, 2011 @ 2:23pm PDT
Mike Fleming

The deal volume of major festival acquisition titles has been slooow so far (see Toronto: Where Are The Film Deals?). So the small distributor Film Movement takes center stage for news that it has acquired North American rights to Historias, the debut film by Brazilian director Julia Murat. The Portuguese-language drama had its debut in Venice. As for the high-profile titles that topped buyers’ lists when the festival began, there are a number that have offers and are headed toward deals. They include You’re Next, Goon, Friends With Kids and Trishna. There are more acquisition titles premiering tonight, including the Jamie Linden-directed Ten Year, with a young cast topped by Channing Tatum. But it does seem like a lot of deals will be made after the buying crowd leaves the festival, an evacuation that starts tomorrow and Wednesday.

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Well Go Lands Rights To Two Korean Pics

By | Monday September 12, 2011 @ 11:12am PDT

Well Go USA has acquired North American TV, DVD, digital, and VOD rights to the South Korean war drama My Way from CJ Entertainment. The action film is directed by Kang Je-gyu, whose 2004 movie Tae Guk Gi: Brotherhood of War grossed more than $64 million in Korea alone. Well Go also bought from CJ all North American rights including theatrical to the 3D-animated actioner Tarbosaurus. The deals continue Well Go’s push to add to its library of word cinema; recently, the distributor acquired a pair of films from Japanese director Takashi Shimizu — Tormented and The Shock Labyrinth — as well as Hit so Hard, the documentary feature about Hole drummer Patty Schemel.

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Toronto: Tribeca Attaches Itself To Tony Kaye’s ‘Detachment’

By | Thursday September 8, 2011 @ 10:43am PDT
Mike Fleming

Tribeca Film has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Tony Kaye’s ensemble drama Detachment and plans a 2012 theatrical release that will run day-and-date with VOD and digital distribution. Adrien Brody stars as a substitute teacher who finds his purpose when he’s assigned to a public school, becoming a role model to the disaffected youth. Christina Hendricks, James Caan, Marcia Gay Harden, Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner, Tim Blake Nelson, Bryan Cranston and William Petersen also star in the film, which premiered this year at the Tribeca fest. Detachment is produced by Paper Street Films’ Austin Stark, Benji Kohn, Chris Papavasiliou and Bingo Gubelmann; Kingsgate Films’ Greg Shapiro; and Carl Lund, who wrote the screenplay. It is executive produced by Brody, Peter Sterling and Andre Laport. Marco Frigeri is co-executive producer. The film from Kaye, the director of American History X, was sold by ICM, which also reps Kaye; ICM also sold Canadian rights on the film to Mongrel Media and French rights to Pretty Pictures. Tribeca’s Nick Savva and Randy Manis negotiated the U.S. deal.

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Toronto: Content Film Acquires Foreign Rights To ‘The Day’

Content Film announced today that it has landed foreign sales rights to Doug Aarniokoski’s action thriller The Day ahead of its world premiere screening in the Midnight Madness section of the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival. The film, which stars Shawn Ashmore, Ashely Bell, Michael Eklund, Cory Hardrict, Dominic Monaghan and Shannon Sossamon, revolves around a group of survivors who fight to stay alive amid a war against humanity. Luke Passmore wrote the script, and Guy Danella is producer; Aarniokoski, Michael Finley, Tim James, Antonina Armato and Ross Dinerstein executive produce. Kevin Iwashina of Preferred Content is handling North American sales. Content also will be selling at Toronto foreign rights on the Sarah Palin documentary Sarah Palin: You Betcha!, which was acquired earlier today for domestic release by Freestyle Releasing, and the Chloe Moretz-Blake Lively pic Hick.

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Freestyle To Release Sarah Palin Doc ‘You Betcha!’

Mike Fleming

Days before its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, Nick Broomfield’s hot-button expose documentary Sarah Palin: You Betcha! has been acquired by Freestyle Releasing. The plan is to open in New York and Los Angeles on Sept. 30 and roll out. Broomfield raised more than $30,000 on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter to support the doc’s release, with private investors kicking in more money to launch the film. Cassian Elwes made the deal with Freestyle co-president Susan Jackson. The doc, directed by Broomfield and Joan Churchill, is not a fave of the Palin crowd, and the filmmakers say it lifts the veil off her image as a former hockey mom as the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate gears up for a possible presidential run in 2012.

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Indomina Acquires North American Rights To Johnnie To’s ‘Life Without Principle’

By | Wednesday September 7, 2011 @ 5:59am PDT
Mike Fleming

Indomina Group has acquired North American distribution rights to the Johnnie To-directed Life Without Principle, a film that premieres today at the Venice Film Festival and will be shown at the Toronto Film Festival. The pic focuses on three characters: a financial analyst forced to sell high-risk securities to customers so she can meet her sales quote, a small-time thug who delves into the futures market hoping for easy money, and a cop suddenly desperate for money when his wife puts money down on a flat he can’t afford. The characters come together over a $5 million bag of stolen money. Media Asia made the deal with Indomina, which just released the Tsui Hark-directed Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame on the specialty circuit.

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