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Mickey Liddell Launches Indie Distribution Company With Paramount Classics Co-Founder David Dinerstein At Helm

By | Monday December 12, 2011 @ 11:39am PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: After making pricey festival acquisitions in recent years including Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful and then finding distributors to put them out, Mickey Liddell has launched his own distribution operation headed by David Dinerstein to release films like his Toronto acquisition Killer Joe, directed by William Friedkin. Here’s the announcement:

HOLLYWOOD, CA, December 12, 2011– Liddell Entertainment, the innovative production and distribution financier is launching a new theatrical distribution entity, LD Distribution, and named indie veteran David Dinerstein as head of the new company. The company’s initial slate includes: William Friedkin’s critically acclaimed Killer Joe starring Matthew McConaughey; the recently wrapped production, Disconnect, starring Jason Bateman and Alexander Skarsgard from the Oscar nominated director Henry-Alex Rubin; and the horror film, The Collection, from Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, the writers of Saw lV, V and Vl which is currently in post-production. The company plans to release 4 to 6 films in its initial year.

LD Distribution will actively acquire films and provide distribution for Liddell Entertainment’s expanding production slate. Liddell Entertainment is aiming to produce four to six movies a year with budgets of up to $25 million.

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Paula Patton Joins ‘Disconnect’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paula Patton has joined the cast of Disconnect, the indie drama that’s being directed by Murderball‘s Henry Alex Rubin. She joins Alexander Skarsgard, Andrea Riseborough, Frank Grillo and Jason Bateman in the Andrew Stern-scripted drama about disparate lives that intertwine as the digital technologies intended to bring people closer together push families further apart. Patton’s coming off Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol and Jumping The Broom. She’s repped by WME and Flavor Unit. The film’s being produced by Liddell Entertainment and Wonderful Films, with Mickey Liddell, Jennifer Hilton, Bill Horberg and Marc Forster producing.

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Toronto Recap: No Drunken Spending A Good Sign For Indie Film Resurgence

Mike Fleming

Was the 2011 Toronto Film Festival a good one for dealmaking? Even after organizers announced a 20% uptick in film deals last Friday (the festival includes foreign territories in its count), the sales kept coming. A long-expected deal with Lionsgate on the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids finally got done (in partnership with Roadside Attractions, which will actually release the film), and Music Box announced overnight it had acquired the Rachel Weisz-starrer The Deep  Blue Sea. Lionsgate was hotly pursuing another film, the Midnight Madness sensation You’re Next, which of all the festival films seems to have the best chance of approaching the box office turned in by Toronto 2010’s breakout Insidious. There have been about 20 acquisitions so far and that many more could come in the next few weeks.

Still, can you call the Toronto acquisitions marketplace “solid” when no films have been bought so far by The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classics, Focus Features, or Fox Searchlight (yeah, I revealed that they bought Shame during Toronto, but it was a deal all but sealed in Venice), or for that matter FilmDistrict, Open Road or Relativity Media, each of which jumped into the distribution business to release films that can play on upwards of 2000 screens? Buyers and sellers said it was a pretty good festival at least. One filled with mostly small deals and a show of distributor discipline that is a positive sign for an indie film sector that just started pulling out of a nosedive this time last year. Read More »

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TORONTO TOLDJA! Mickey Liddell Acquires William Friedkin’s ‘Killer Joe’

Mike Fleming

Mickey Liddell’s Liddell Entertainment closed a U.S. rights deal from Voltage Pictures for Killer Joe, the drama directed by William Friedkin that premiered Sunday night at the Ryerson Theater. This might get CAA bragging rights for the largest sale of the festival so far, with a $4 million minimum guarantee and an even larger P&A commitment. The UTA-brokered Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was also a large deal, said to be in excess of $5 million. Liddell is working on a distribution plan right now for 2012, and he will make a service deal with a distributor. Deadline revealed last night that Liddell was going to get the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival before coming to Canada. The sexy drama stars Matthew McConaughey as the contract killer title character as well as Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon and Juno Temple. In Killer Joe, Hirsch plays a drug dealer whose cash gets stolen by his mother and has to come up with $6000 or he’s dead. He hires Killer Joe (McConaughey) when he learns mom’s life insurance policy is worth $50,000. Joe usually demands his money up front but is flexible when the drug dealer offers his sister as sexual collateral. Read More »

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Toronto: ‘Friends With Kids’ And ‘Killer Joe’ Deals Getting Closer

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Sellers of Friends With Kids say I jumped the gun and their auction hasn’t concluded. I believe that Lionsgate is squarely in the mix, but they tell me others are still in it too and the outcome isn’t as certain as I’d heard last night for a deal that will be for U.S. only. Will update information as it develops.

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: The deal logjam here is on the verge of clearing up. Word is rampant that Lionsgate is on the verge of tying down rights to the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids, with a deal worth upwards of $2 million for U.S. and five other territories. The ensemble comedy stars Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott as friends whose lives are altered when they start families. Cinetic and Red Granite are selling.

In another deal taking shape, Mickey Liddell is in talks to acquire rights to the William Friedkin-directed Killer Joe, the drama that made its Toronto debut Sunday. It is the first acquisition of the festival for Liddell, whose last year acquisitions included the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Biutiful. Read More »

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Open Road Buys ‘Silent House,’ Eyes March 2012 Release

Mike Fleming

LOS ANGELES, CA, July 21, 2011 – Open Road Films has partnered with Liddell Entertainment for the U.S. release of SILENT HOUSE. The announcement was made today by Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films and Mickey Liddell, CEO of Liddell Entertainment.

Directed by fillmmaking duo Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (Open Water), Silent House is an enthralling and unsettling horror thriller starring Elizabeth Olsen as Laura, a young woman whose panic growsinto terror as she finds herself sealed inside her family’s crumbling lake house. With no electricity and no contact to the outside world, events throughout the house become increasingly frightening and bloody.

Ortenberg stated, “Silent House is sure to resonate with audiences and we are thrilled to partner with Liddell Entertainment to bring this film to theaters. It’s great to reunite with Chris and Laura whose unique filmmaking talents don’t just scare people, but leave them talking about a film for days.”

This is the second deal between Open Road Films and Liddell Entertainment this month. Open Road Films recently became the U.S. distributor of Joe Carnahan’s The Grey, the highly-anticipated survival thriller starring Liam Neeson.

“Elizabeth Olsen gives one of the most amazing performances I’ve seen from a young actress,” stated Liddell. “Laura Lau and Chris Kentis are such a great directing team and have brought yet another unique concept to the big screen. With Tom’s experience and Open Road’s talented team, we think this is great partnership for this film.”

Silent House is

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Open Road Acquiring U.S. Rights To Joe Carnahan’s ‘The Grey’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Open Road is in the final stages of acquiring U.S. rights to Joe Carnahan’s The Grey, and it’s shaping up to be a whopper of a deal. The numbers I’m hearing are in the $8 million minimum guarantee range, with a $25 million P&A commitment and a gross corridor built in. Deadline told you Wednesday there was heat on the finished film as CAA was showing a 30-minute reel to buyers all week. The film is about an oil-drilling team struggling to survive in the wilds of Alaska after their plane crashes smack in the middle of a territorial rogue wolf pack, with Liam Neeson, Dallas Roberts, James Badge Dale, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo, Nonso Anozie and Joe Anderson starring. Scott Free’s Jules Daly produced the film with Mickey Liddell. I’d heard that Warner Bros, Open Road, Summit, Lionsgate, The Weinstein Company and FilmDistrict were all in the mix.

Nobody was confirming, and Open Road chief Tom Ortenberg didn’t return a text and a call, but the deal could be sealed by this evening. It gives Open Road a major film for its inaugural slate after being launched earlier this year by theater chains AMC and Regal. Ortenberg has been in the mix on numerous high-profile films shopped for acquisition, and Open Road also acquired The Host, the Andrew Niccol-directed adaptation of the novel by Twilight Saga’s Stephenie Meyer that will star Saoirse Ronan. The film … Read More »

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Sundance: Update; Weinstein Co. Closes ‘The Details’ For $7.5 Million, $10 Million P&A

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: The Weinstein Company indeed closed this deal, and here are the details. I’m told the minimum guarantee was $7.5 million, with a P&A commitment upwards of $10 million. That makes The Details the largest minimum guarantee of the festival so far, though TWC’s deal for My Idiot Brother (between $6 million-$7 million m.g.) had a larger P&A commitment, around $15 million. Summit’s bid for domestic rights was between $4 million and $5 million. TWC’s acquisition team of Peter Lawson, Laine Kline and David Glasser made the deal with CAA and UTA, which co-repped the picture.

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 6:48 PM: A marathon bargaining session is near a close, and it appears The Weinstein Company will acquire worldwide distribution rights to The Details, the Jacob Aaron Estes-directed dark comedy that stars Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Ray Liotta, Dennis Haysbert and Kerry Washington. TWC and Summit Entertainment have been battling vigorously all night, and I’m told this could end up the Sundance Film Festival’s largest deal. The film, repped by CAA and UTA, began attracting suitors right after its Monday premiere at Eccles Theater. It quickly  got down to TWC and Summit Entertainment, the latter of which has focused on acquiring domestic distribution rights.

When hungry raccoons discover worms living under the sod in a young couple’s backyard, the result is a chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity, organ … Read More »

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Sundance: Liddell Moves Into ‘Silent House’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Mickey Liddell’s Liddell Entertainment has acquired domestic and most world rights to the horror film Silent House in a deal just brokered by CAA. I’m told the deal is a $3 million minimum guarantee, and a P&A commitment upwards of $3 million. Liddell gets all territories but UK, Scandanavia and the Middle East. Liddell, who made a splash last year backing the acquisition of the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Biutiful, is working with CAA to set a distributor. Several are circling, including Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company. The film made its debut in a  Friday midnight screening. A remake of the Gustavo Hernandez-directed Uruguayan thriller La Casa Muda, Silent House is the second film by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, filmmakers who helmed the 2004 Sundance midnight pic Open Water.

Elizabeth Olsen heads the cast. A family returns to their former boarded up house to spruce it up for sale. Once they hear a noise inside and investigate, the scares begin. The film was done in one long continuous shot, which could prove a catchy technique like those “found footage” fright films Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity.

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Filmmakers Rally Behind Inarritu’s ‘Biutiful’

Mike Fleming

This Sunday, director Werner Herzog will conduct a Q&A with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu after a screening at the Directors Guild headquarters on Sunset Blvd at 7:30 PM. Herzog rarely does such things, but was moved  to take part in the DGA members-only-event after seeing the film last month. ”I respect Werner and his films so much, because he takes risks and doesn’t compromise,” Inarritu told me. “This was a surprise and an honor, and it helps in the battle to get this film noticed.” Directors are now rallying behind the prestige film and helping it build slow momentum. Biutiful is Mexico’s submission for Best Foreign Language film, and the picture opened its all-categories Oscar campaign with an event last Saturday, hosted by Guillermo del Toro for Inarritu and his below-the-line collaborators Rodrigo Prieto, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Stephen Mirrione. Julian Schnabel showed his support at a Soho House screening in New York last Tuesday, and Robert Benton quizzed the director at DGA headquarters in New York the following day. Among the upcoming events will be a big screening in December that will be followed by a Q&A with Inarritu and Bardem, who’ll be grilled by Sean Penn. Read More »

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‘Biutiful’ Gets Foothold In Oscar Race As Mexico’s Submission

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: While the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Biutiful already figured to be an Oscar contender for a performance by Javier Bardem that won Best Actor honors at Cannes, the picture is now a contender for Best Foreign Language film. Biutiful, which was picked up for distribution by Mickey Liddell and Roadside Attractions, has just been selected as Mexico’s official entry for the 2010 Academy Awards. The picture will be released December 29 in New York and Los Angeles to qualify for Oscars and will get a wider release early next year.

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Roadside Attractions And Liddell Entertainment Acquire ‘Biutiful’

Mike Fleming

What’s the word I’m looking for? Oh, yeah. Tojdja! Roadside Attractions and Liddell Entertainment just announced they’ve acquired U.S. rights to the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Biutiful, which won a Best Actor Award for Javier Bardem at Cannes. Roadside Attractions co-president Howard Cohen and Liddell Entertainment’s Mickey Liddell teamed on the deal and CAA repped the picture.

Deadline broke the news on August 10. The film will be released in December.

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Roadside Attractions Near ‘Biutiful’ Deal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: A domestic distribution deal is finally near for Biutiful, the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Spanish language drama that fell into radio silence after premiering in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and winning Best Actor for Javier Bardem. I’m told that a complicated deal is being ironed  that will see the film acquired by producer Mickey Liddell and get its domestic release through Roadside Attractions.

CAA, which is repping domestic rights on the film, is working out details that include a P&A commitment. The agency declined comment. There is pressure to get the film’s distribution plans ready. Biutiful kicks off its awards season push with a berth at the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

The deal will give Roadside Attractions two films worth talking about in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories. The former is for Bardem, the latter for Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, the gritty drama that Roadside Attractions acquired at Sundance.

In Biutiful, Bardem plays a family man in Barcelona whose tender relationship with his children is offset by his unsympathetic job. He’s a criminal who traffics in human suffering with businesses that range from drug dealing to slave labor sweatshops. Focus Features International has offshore territories. Gonzalez Inarritu wrote the script with Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone, and the director produced with Jon Kilik and Fernando Bovaira. David Linde is executive producer and Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo Del Toro are associate producers.

I expect the deal … Read More »

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