The rallying cry for transparency in VOD reporting fell on receptive ears Sunday at the 2014 Produced By conference, where Cinetic Media’s John Sloss appealed to the financial interests of the producers in the room regarding the mounting importance of VOD and digital distribution. “The promise of transparency creates the promise of the future of cleaner revenue streams,” said Sloss. “And the efficiency of the future should push more revenue back to you.”
Sloss has been indie film’s most vocal proponent of VOD data reporting since he went public with VOD performance numbers on indie Escape from Tomorrow and called for others to do the same. But without more distributors onboard to offer up numbers and no standards in data collecting it’s still a steep uphill climb towards transparency. Read More »
Gravitas Ventures has picked up North American rights to feature dramedy Among Ravens, directed by Russell Friedenberg and Randy Redroad from a Friedenberg script. The film stars Friedenberg, Amy Smart, Joshua Leonard, Christian Campbell, Victoria Smurfit, Natalie Imbruglia, Will McCormack and Johnny Sequoyah. The movie is based on real-life events, following a group of friends and family as they gather for a 4th of July holiday weekend in Idaho, as seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl. The film is slated for release July 18 in theaters and on VOD. It premiered at the Nantucket Film Festival and opened the Galway Film Festival. The film is produced by Heather Rae, Teddy Grennan and Dori Sperko. The deal was brokered by Rae on behalf of Iron Circle Pictures and by Melanie Miller for Gravitas.
Gravitas Ventures has taken all North American rights to 21 Years: Richard Linklater, a feature-length documentary directed by Paste Magazine’s Michael Dunaway and co-helmer Tara Wood. Richard Linklater collaborators and actors including Before Sunrise‘s Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Billy Bob Thornton, Keanu Reeves, and director Jason Reitman appear in the film which theorizes that the first 21 years of an artist’s work defines their career. For the Oscar-nominated writer-director that’s been quite a creative span, starting with his 1988 minimalist Super8 feature It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books. The doc starts the clock with Linklater’s 1991 Sundance breakout film, Slacker. 21 Years also looks at his latest film, Boyhood, which was shot over the course of 12 years and won him Best Director honors at the Berlin Film Festival. Wood, Dunaway, and Gravitas’ Melanie Miller are producers on the pic. Gravitas’ Nolan Gallagher and Michael Murphy are exec producers alongside Pamela Sutton, Robert C. McGirr, Mario Davila, William Pedroza, & Gregory Norman McGuire. Miller negotiated the deal with Wood for Wood Entertainment. Gravitas and Wood are also selling the film this week in Cannes.
The indie distributor has picked up North American rights to the feature ahead of its June 5 world premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival. Gravitas Ventures plans an August 1 theatrical release for 4 Minute Mile, with a pre-theatrical window starting July 1. Kelly Blatz stars as Drew, a high school student struggling to overcome the inner-city surroundings that threaten to imprison him. An ex-track coach (Richard Jenkins) with his own demons witnesses Drew’s speed and athleticism and decides to train him. But tragedy strikes right before the biggest race of Drew’s life and forces him to confront everything that has been holding him back. Cam Gigandet, Rhys Coiro, Analeigh Tipton and Kim Basinger co-star in the pic from director Charles-Olivier Michaud, making his English-language debut. Jeff Van Wie and Josh Campbell wrote the script. The deal was negotiated by Melanie Miller for Gravitas and Jay Cohen at Gersh on behalf of the filmmakers.
Gravitas Ventures has acquired drama I Am I starring Jocelyn Towne, Big Bang Theory‘s Simon Helberg, Kevin Tighe, Jason Ritter, and James Morrison. Towne makes her directorial debut with the pic, which she also wrote, about a woman (Towne) who meets her estranged father at her mother’s funeral. Realizing he suffers from memory loss and thinks he’s still a young man she pretends to be her mother to get to know him. Towne and Co. raised over $100K on Kickstarter for the project, which is produced by Jennifer Dubin and Cora Olson for Present Pictures and executive produced by Towne and Helberg. The married collaborators premiered their second film together, We’ll Never Have Paris, at SXSW while producers Dubin and Olson have Chris Denham’s Preservation debuting this month at Tribeca. Gravitas is plotting a June 13 NY/LA theatrical release preceded by a digital release via Vimeo On Demand May 13. Gravitas’ Melanie Miller and Nolan Gallagher negotiated the deal with Dubin and Olson from Present Pictures on behalf of the filmmakers.
EXCLUSIVE: Gravitas Ventures has acquired under-the-radar thriller Happy Camp, produced by Drew Barrymore‘s Flower Films banner and helmed by first-timer Josh Anthony, who also co-wrote and stars in the pic. Michael Barbuto, Anne Taylor, and Teddy Gilmore also star in the story of four filmmaker friends who visit the Northern California town of Happy Camp to film a documentary about the place where hundreds of people have gone missing from the surrounding mountains, including one of the pals’ younger siblings decades ago. Gravitas has a VOD release set for March 25. Flower Films’ Barrymore, Nancy Juvonen, Chris Miller and Ember Truesdell are exec producers on the project, which Barbuto and Taylor wrote and produced with Anthony for Hogtown Productions. Barrymore’s shingle, established in 1995 with Juvonen, is branching out from Barrymore starring vehicles to include indie genre fare including Animal, which will debut June 10 via Chiller Films. Check out the first-look trailer for Happy Camp:
Related: Chiller Adds Drew Barrymore’s ‘Animal’ To Original Film Slate
Gravitas Ventures plans an early summer theatrical and digital release for writer-director Michael Tully’s Ping Ping Summer, which had its world premiere last month in the NEXT section at the Sundance Film Festival. The coming-of-age comedy set in 1985 Maryland stars Susan Sarandon, John Hannah, Lea Thompson, Amy Sedaris and Robert Longstreet and follows awkward 13-year-old Rad Miracle (Marcello Conte) as he attempts to live up to that name by becoming a master breakdancer, ping pong player and ladies man all before the end of summer break. George Rush, Brooke Bernard, Ryan Zacarias, Billy Peterson, Jeffrey Allard and Michael Gottwald produced in association with Epic Match Media, Compass Entertainment and Nomadic Independence. Submarine’s Josh Braun and David Koh negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers, with CEO Nolan Gallagher for Gravitas, which had success at the 2013 Sundance fest securing worldwide VOD rights to the Dave Grohl docu Sound City.
Dustin Smith has been hired as VP of Theatrical Distribution to oversee Gravitas Theatrical. Gravitas Ventures says it will release 12 films a year under the new division, starting with Matthew Saville’s thriller Felony. Gravitas Ventures founder and CEO Nolan Gallagher announced the move today on the eve of the 2014 Sundance Film Fest. Smith will primarily be responsible for developing the distribution and marketing strategy for Gravitas’ theatrical releases, booking global, attending film fests and advising on acquisitions. Smith will report to Michael Murphy, President of Gravitas.
Smith joins Gravitas after nearly a decade at Roadside Attractions where he most recently served as VP, Acquisitions and Business Affairs. While at Roadside, Smith oversaw the acquisition and release of Winter’s Bone, and also worked on such releases as All Is Lost, Stories We Tell, Mud and The Cove. Read More »
Gravitas Ventures has acquired U.S. rights to Toronto Film Fest entry Stay. The Visit Films drama starring Orange Is The New Black‘s Taylor Schilling and Aidan Quinn tracks the relationship between a young woman (Schilling) and a middle-aged professor (Quinn) whose lives are upended by an unexpected pregnancy. Wiebke von Carolsfeld wrote and directs the adaptation of Aislinn Hunter’s novel of the same name. Gravitas will release the pic theatrically and on VOD in first quarter 2014. Barry Keoghan, Nika McGuigan, Chris McHallem, Brian Gleeson, Pascale Montpetit, and Michael Ironside co-star. Mark Slone is exec producer while Martin Paul-Hus, David Collins, Andrew Boutilier, and Martina Niland are producers on the Canada-Ireland co-production which was backed by Telefilm Canada, SODEC, and the Irish Film Board. Nolan Gallagher negotiated the deal for Gravitas with Ryan Kampe of Visit Films. Visit Films is selling international rights at AFM.
Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael wrote and starred in the low-brow comedy Ass Backwards which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and was acquired in July by Gravitas Ventures. Here’s the first trailer for the pic, in which they star as 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. Alicia Silverstone, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Cryer, Brian Geraghty and Bob Odenkirk co-star, and Chris Nelson directed. It’s set for a VOD release September 30 and a theatrical rollout November 8.
The deal gives Gravitas Ventures the exclusive right to distribute Cirque du Soleil programs via transactional, sub and ad sponsored VOD in North America. The programs will include performance specials featuring the live shows as well as behind-the-scenes documentaries that highlight the creative process of a Cirque du Soleil show. Kooza and A Thrilling Ride Through Kooza will be available August 6 and are available for pre-order now on iTunes. Additional programs will continue into September as part of a Season of Cirque du Soleil. They include Cirque specials Delirium, Hatching (a documentary on the creation of Ovo), Flow: A Tribute To The Artists Of O and The Mystery Of Mystère.
Gravitas Ventures has picked up NA rights to Joel Allen Schroeder’s Dear Mr. Watterson, the documentary chronicling the impact of author and illustrator Bill Watterson and his Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. The daily toon ran in syndication from 1985 to 1995 when Watterson ended its run on New Year’s Eve. Still, the globally popular adventures of a young boy and his stuffed tiger lived on in bestselling hardcover and paperback collections as Watterson kept it away from potentially lucrative licensing deals, protecting the property as he did his own privacy in retirement. Dear Mr. Watterson dives into the Calvin & Hobbes legacy with interviews with fans and illustrators alike, including Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County), Bill Amend (Foxtrot), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) and Seth Green (Robot Chicken and Family Guy). Read More »
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.
Among the more interesting new paid YouTube channels of the 30 unveiled today are the ones belonging to indie film distributors leading the charge into untested digital and outside-the-box models. Cinedigm relaunched their Docurama brand in April with a library of 1,250 documentary features, also plotting a streaming app for launch this spring which would make more than 150 Docurama titles available for free on multiple devices. Their new curated Docurama YouTube channel could similarly boost digital niche moviewatching and carve a path for other distributors and filmmakers exploring alternative distribution online. For $2.99 a month, users will get access to Docurama’s playlist of docu features and bonus materials refreshed each week, with 25% of those feature offerings being new or recent releases. (All of YouTube’s new premium channels will first launch with a 14-day free trial.) The ambitious growth plan set in motion last year under Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk so far has also included a plan to help outfit drive-in theaters with digital projectors and last month’s Arthur Newman BitTorrent experiment.
Related: YouTube Unveils First 30 Paid Channels Read More »
The deal with MonteCristo International for theatrical and digital rights to the pic written and directed by Michael Taverna will see Apartment 1303 3D debut on VOD on June 17, followed by a July 25 theatrical release in 20 markets, mostly targeting midnight 3D shows. Gravitas Ventures says it’s the first indie that will be offered in 3D whether you go out to the theater or stay in. Mischa Barton, Rebecca De Mornay and Julianne Michelle star in the movie, which is based on Kei Oishi’s novel and is a remake of a Japanese title. Having grown up under the controlling grip of her fame-hungry mother (De Mornay), Janet (Michelle) jumps at the opportunity to move into what looks to be a great high-rise apartment in downtown Detroit. But one night her boyfriend finds her in the middle of the street, having fallen from the balcony 13 stories above. Her sister (Barton) tries to investigate and finds the same fate could befall her unless she can overcome the strange events terrorizing the apartment’s inhabitants. Taverna and MonteCristo’s Cindy Nelson-Mullen produced, and David Shoshan and Scott Rosenfelt exec produced. The deal was negotiated by Gravitas’ Nolan Gallagher and Nelson-Mullen.
Gravitas Ventures has acquired digital rights to Slamdance favorite Jug Face, with a VOD release planned for July. The horror/thriller concerns a demonic power worshipped by an isolated rural community that offers health and protection in exchange for human sacrifices, identified when their faces materialize on ceramic jugs fabricated by an entranced potter. Bloody chaos ensues when the newest victim is hidden from the monster. The Modernciné production stars Lauren Ashley Carter (The Woman), Sean Bridgers (Deadwood), Sean Young (Blade Runner), Larry Fessenden (I Sell the Dead) and Daniel Manche (The Girl Next Door). Jug Face netted the Slamdance Grand Prize Screenwriting Award in 2011 for writer-director Chad Crawford Kinkle. It’s produced by Andrew van den Houten (Funeral Kings, The Woman) and Robert Tonino (Home Movie, Ghoul) for Modernciné. Additional rights are still being negotiated, with a theatrical run planned for some time after the VOD release.