EXCLUSIVE: The impressive volume of distribution deals for 2011 Sundance Film Festival fare is about to expand again. I’m told that ATO Pictures is wrapping up a deal for US rights to The Convincer, the Karen Sprecher-directed dark comedy that stars Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin and Billy Crudup. It’s Fargo-style caper-gone-awry tale in which a conniving insurance salesman (Kinnear) thinks he has found a way to fortify his bank account and get his wife back. He sets out to scam a retired farmer (Arkin) out of a rare violin worth $25,000. A lot goes wrong and blood and dead bodies ensue. Produced by Werc Werk Works, the film was scripted by the director and her sister Jill, who also did Clockwatchers together. CAA is repping the film. ATO, which was hatched by Johnathan Dorfman, Temple Fennell and musician Dave Matthews, distributed George Hickenlooper’s final film Casino Jack and recently acquired The Woman in the Fifth.
2ND UPDATE: I’m still trying to discover how George Hickenlooper passed away, but I’m told he had been in Colorado campaigning last night for his cousin, John, who is in the final stretch run of the Governor’s race in Colorado. John, the mayor of Denver, is the Democratic Party candidate. Hickenlooper went early to Denver to help his cousin, and had to be there later this week, when Casino Jack will be shown Thursday at the Starz Film Festival. I’m told that George didn’t wake up this morning, but I’m still not sure why.
UPDATE: George Hickenlooper’s Casino Jack star Kevin Spacey has sent me a statement on the shocking passing of his director. “It is with great sadness that I have to even think about writing about George in this way, when I was looking forward to seeing him next week in Los Angeles,” Spacey said. “We have been due to take our film on the road toward its release in December. I can’t believe he’s gone because George was so alive, bubbling with energy, drive, commitment, an open heart and a brilliant sense of humor. He was one of a kind.
“My experience working with him was nothing short of fantastic: from our prison visit with Jack Abramoff, to script meetings, pre-production discussions and finally our first day of shooting. From that day until …
Here’s a new and longer trailer for Casino Jack, the George Hickenlooper-directed drama about the rise and fall of lobbyist Jack Abramoff that’s being released December 29 by ATO Pictures to take advantage of a strong performance by Kevin Spacey. Nice to see Jon Lovitz back in a movie.
Casino Jack, the drama that stars Kevin Spacey as disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, has a new home. ATO Pictures has acquired US theatrical rights to a film which was orphaned when its original distributor, Metropolitan, failed to meet its commitments and the picture was pulled back for breach of contract. ATO is best known for having singer Dave Matthews and music exec Coran Capshaw as its co-founders.
ATO Pictures will distribute the George Hickenlooper-directed drama in December. The George Hickenlooper-directed film will be platformed at the Toronto International Film Festival, and gets its chance at awards season, with Spacey’s performance in particular garnering raves at early private showings. The film makes its festival premiere at Toronto on September 16, with filmmaker and cast in tow.
“It is not only one of the most refreshing and entertaining films we’ve seen in a long time, but, it also fits in perfectly with a strategy of releasing high quality, engaging stories that appeal to mainstream audiences,” ATO co-founders Johnathan Dorfman and Temple Fennell said in a statement. ATO releases theatrically though Independent Distribution Partners, its partnership with Samuel Goldwyn Films.
EXCLUSIVE: Is Casino Jack ever going to see the light of day? The feature drama about the rise and fall of D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff certainly seems to have a lot going for it. Kevin Spacey in the starring role, cooperation from Abramoff — who allowed Spacey and director George Hickenlooper to visit him in jail– and an 8-figure distribution deal by upstart independent distributor Metropolitan.
What a turn of events for the film, and Abramoff! The ex-lobbyist has been sprung and works for a kosher Baltimore pizzeria. He might be up to his eyeballs in dough, but a lack of money due from Metropolitan has prompted the makers of Casino Jack to reclaim the film. They say Metropolitan has defaulted, and CAA is showing it to distributors again. They hope to make a new deal that will keep plans intact for an October opening to exploit what the filmmakers believe is an awards-caliber performance by Spacey.
The Casino Jack development parallels the Jim Carrey-Ewan McGregor film I Love You Phillip Morris. In April, Deadline revealed that Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp reclaimed that film from upstart distribution company Consolidated Pictures Group, after CPG was late with funds and canceled three release dates on a movie that has already been released around the world. While CPG denied it was let go, I’m told EuropaCorp—which sued CPG—will close a new deal shortly.
Metropolitan owner, Romar Entertainment’s James Schramm, vehemently denied he has defaulted, or that …