Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill and Darlene Love, the backup singers who get the spotlight in RADiUS-TWC‘s Oscar documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, will sing the National Anthem at the 100th Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day 2014. The special performance during the Stanford-Michigan State game marks the first time in a century that one of the Rose Bowl participants’ band is not performing the “Star-Spangled Banner.” That’s about the flashiest PR stunt conceivable for this year’s heated Oscar docu race, and shrewd timing – nominations voting ends just a week later on January 8.
Radius-TWC, the specialty division of The Weinstein Company devoted to multi-platform strategies, has only been in business now a couple of years. But it is clearly setting out to make its mark in the Oscar race in a big way this year with four documentaries, all with a strong chance of making the Academy’s short list if industry buzz is any factor at all. Cutie And The Boxer, Inequality For All, Twenty Feet From Stardom and The Unknown Known are the titles Radius co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego highlighted when we met for coffee to discuss their awards strategy.
Oddly, though the company is known for day-and date VOD and theatrical releases — like the recent Ryan Gosling film Only God Forgives, Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut Man Of Tai Chi and Lovelace to name a few — all four of its docu contenders are traveling the more traditional route by hitting theatres before rolling out to other platforms. The pair have a definite strategy, not only for financial success but also hopefully at the Oscars. “We have I think approached this in a pretty transparent way. And we have put together our blueprint for what we think puts us into the race for each film — and the good news is they are all different”, Quinn said. “I feel like they each fit a very different mold in what could be a possible doc nominee. None of these have been released day and date.” He added that they don’t currently believe there is an audience for these movies on VOD, but there will be one day. “In order to build bigger value for these films in ancillary platforms we need to build them theatrically first,” he said.
And they look at all of these contenders as movies first. They pointed out that their first “traditional release” — the highly successful Twenty Feet From Stardom, the Morgan Neville-directed music docu about background singers — has grossed nearly $5 million (the year’s best for a docu) after successfully taking on non-docus in the specialty realm during its summer release including Frances Ha and Much Ado About Nothing. It’s also brought renewed heat in the music business to the careers of the veteran singers it chronicles. Music- and showbiz-centric documentaries have a tougher time with the Academy committee, which seems to gravitate toward heavier subject matter, but Quinn and Janego are hopeful about Twenty Feet, which I think transcends the genre in the same way as last year’s docu feature winner Searching For Sugar Man.
EXCLUSIVE: Days after John Sloss began reporting real-time VOD grosses for the Disney-shot indie Escape From Tomorrow and challenged his peers to do the same, RADiUS-TWC co-heads Tom Quinn and Jason Janego have become the latest distributors to go the transparency route. Quinn and Janego have told me that their Keanu Reeves-directed martial arts film Man Of Tai Chi has grossed $1.5 million across digital, satellite and cable platforms ahead of today’s theatrical rollout.
The film began its Ultra-VOD window September 27, and Quinn and Janego were pleased with the results, while noting the film was not available on all satellite services or in hotels. “I’m pleased with that number out of the gate,” Quinn said. “I’m happy we’re able to make this film as widely available theatrically as possible and without VOD frankly we couldn’t do that. It just wouldn’t make sense financially.”
EXCLUSIVE: In what might well be the last major deal for a buzz title that world premiered at last month’s Toronto Film Festival, Dimension and RADiUS-TWC have acquired U.S. rights to Horns, the Alexandre Aja-directed thriller that stars Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Kelli Garner, Heather Graham, David Morse, Kathleen Quinlan and James Remar. The deal was for multiple millions, rivaling the largest deals made for the other Toronto films.
Keith Bunin wrote the script, based on the novel by comic book author Joe Hill. The logline: After being blamed for the death of his longtime girlfriend (Temple), a small-town guy (Radcliffe) awakens one morning to find a pair of horns growing from his head. The film was produced by Red Granite Pictures founders and producing partners Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland in addition to Mandalay’s Cathy Shulman. Aja is also a producer.
Dimension chief Bob Weinstein and RADiUS-TWC co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego have been working on this deal since the festival. It was certainly a talked-up title that several distributors pursued. They haven’t figured out the release configuration but are looking at 2014.
Shutdown Special: Landmark, Radius-TWC Offer Free ‘Inequality For All’ Tickets To Federal & Military Employees
EXCLUSIVE: Federal and military employees affected by the government shutdown are invited to go to the movies for free today, courtesy of Radius-TWC and Landmark Theatres. Qualifying federal and military workers with a valid Federal ID can claim a free ticket to the Radius-TWC docu Inequality For All today only at 13 Landmark theaters across the country. The film features professor, author, and former Clinton administration cabinet member Robert Reich as he illustrates the country’s widening income gap and its ripple effect on the US economy.
Here’s a list of Landmark Theatre locations participating in today’s shutdown promo:
EXCLUSIVE: RADiUS-TWC, the boutique label of The Weinstein Company, has acquired North American distribution rights to Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon. The documentary, which premiered in Toronto on September 7 at Roy Thompson Hall, marks the feature directorial debut of Mike Myers. RADiUS co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego plan to release the film theatrically in the first quarter of 2014. They tell me they see the breakout potential of 20 Feet From Stardom, the acclaimed docu they turned into a prestige film hit this spring after acquiring it at Sundance.
With backing from A&E IndieFilms, Myers devoted the documentary to the life journey of Shep Gordon, who became a music manager after a chance encounter in the 1960s with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Specifically, the latter felt bad after punching Gordon in the face the night before after Gordon, concerned she was being attacked, broke up what turned out to be a consensual sexual encounter taking place in the grass outside his hotel room window. From there, he colorfully steered the careers of such musical artists as Alice Cooper, Anne Murray, Teddy Pendergrass and Blondie, and he created the “celebrity chef” culture and became a confidante of the Dalai Lama. Myers, who met Gordon when he was trying to get Alice Cooper to appear in a Wayne’s World scene, interviewed himself and the likes of Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Willie Nelson, Emeril Lagasse and more. Myers creates a picture of a charming Hollywood mensch whose Midas touch for dealmaking realized the dreams of others, as he put his own happiness on the back burner. I found the Zelig-like subject and the film irresistible.
UPDATE, 5:10 PM: Despite a $10 million copyright and trademark suit field on Tuesday, Lovelace is still coming out on Friday. US District Judge Thomas Griesa today rejected Arrow Productions request for a temporary …
Three months after rescuing Jonathan Levine‘s horror thriller All The Boys Love Mandy Lane from distribution purgatory and seven years after the Amber Heard-starrer was filmed, Radius-TWC has set fall theatrical and VOD dates for the film. The Texas-set slasher will hit VOD September 6 followed by an October 11 theatrical release, the company announced today. But has buzz waxed or waned for the infamously stalled 2006 festival midnight sensation?
Pic follows a group of high schoolers who invite “good girl” Mandy Lane (Heard) out for a weekend on a secluded ranch where a killer begins targeting them one by one. When The Weinstein Co. first won a Toronto Film Fest bidding war for the pic in a hot $3.5M sale, its cast and director were on the verge of breaking out. Then TWC balked, put it on hold, and eventually sold it to Senator Entertainment US — which went bankrupt, leaving Mandy Lane trapped in the space between spaces until Radius-TWC’s Tom Quinn and Jason Janego and EP Keith Calder figured out a way to resuscitate it.
An HBO film? A VOD movie? Competing for the Palme d’Or, all seriously in one of the last bastions of pure cinema, the Cannes Film Festival‘s main competition? Oui!
With HBO’s Behind The Candelabra and Radius-TWC‘s Ryan Gosling-starrer Only God Forgives from Cannes darling Nicolas Winding Refn, a new day — and date — has dawned here. And in all these cases, huge movie stars who might not have considered anything but a traditional theatrical release and all the trimmings that go with that are suddenly here with projects that — while also possibly traveling the theatrical route, too — will simultaneously, or even first, be seen on smaller screens. This might have been considered sacreligious in the Cannes of old, but in this ever-changing film industry it’s the way of the future, at least partially.
HBO made a big splash Tuesday night with its extremely well-received Steven Soderbergh-directed movie Behind The Candelabra, the story of a very closeted Liberace and his relationship with a young man that has become one of the best-reviewed films here. Its Oscar-winning stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon hit the Palais Grand Theatre’s red carpet, won raves and immediate awards talk here, even though one person said of the film’s Palme d’Or chances, “I can’t imagine Cannes giving an award to an HBO movie”. Really? Well, who could have imagined Cannes, a few years ago, actually embracing HBO and letting it compete at the big table which is exactly what Candelabra is doing. Many observers here think Douglas is in fact the frontrunner for the Best Actor prize for his uncanny portrayal of the uber-flamboyant Liberace. I would go as far to say that Douglas and Damon, who plays his young lover Scott Thorson (the man who wrote the expose upon which the film is based), would easily have been nominated for Oscars had this gone theatrical instead of cable in America (it will be in theaters internationally). Instead the film, which HBO begins airing Sunday in the U.S., and its stars will just have to settle for sweeping the Emmys, as it most likely will do. That it also represents what Steven Soderbergh says is his final film for the foreseeable future could actually increase his Palme d’Or chances in my view, perhaps as a message that he shouldn’t quit so soon. How ironic that no major studio or distributor wanted the film when it was initially pitched. But HBO jumped at the chance. Douglas for one is extremely grateful. He even had to hold back tears and got very choked up trying to thank his colleagues during the Cannes press conference yesterday for waiting for him while he underwent his cancer treatments.
So as their movie hits TV screens in America, could Soderbergh or his film be winning a prize in Cannes the same day? Stranger things have happened, but that would be a first.
EXCLUSIVE: In its second significant deal at Cannes, Radius-TWC acquired North American rights to Keanu Reeves‘ directorial debut Man Of Tai Chi in a low seven-figure minimum guarantee. The film is set in modern Beijing and follows the spiritual journey of a young martial artist (Tiger Hu Chen) whose unparalleled tai chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club. As the fights grow tougher, he must compromise his own beliefs in order to survive. This is the second deal for Radius, which on Saturday acquired the Directors Fornight film Blue Ruin. TWC-Radius also has the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed Only God Forgives playing here at Cannes, with Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas starring.
Reeves, who also stars in the film, met Chen during The Matrix, where Chen was a stuntman and a trainer for Reeves. It’s Chen’s first lead role, and the film also stars international action fixtures like The Raid’s Iko Uwais and Jeremy Marinas. Michael G. Cooney wrote the script and Man Of Tai Chi is a co-production between China Film Group, Wanda Media, Village Roadshow Pictures Asia and Universal Pictures. Lemore Syvan is the producer. Radius will release the film in the fourth quarter of 2013.
EXCLUSIVE: Hours after it made its world premiere in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, the Jeremy Saulnier-directed Blue Ruin was acquired by Radius-TWC. Radius co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego bought North American rights, and plan to release the film theatrically this fall. (Watch a clip from the film here.) Saulnier, whose film is one of the few American offerings in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar, here directs a story of a man who finds his quiet life upended by unwelcome news and subsequently sets off for his childhood home to carry out an act of revenge. Proving an improbable assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. Blue Ruin was produced by Anish Savjani, Richard Peete and Vincent Savino.
These Sundance films keep raking it in. Content has acquired foreign rights to Concussion, a drama about a fortysomething wealthy, married, lesbian housewife who gets beaned by a baseball and strangely reflects on a life that she realizes is wanting and leads her to lead a secret life on the side. As Deadline revealed late Monday evening, Radius-TWC spent a 7-figure sum for North American rights, for a multi-platform release in a deal brokered by Paradigm. Here’s the Content release:
BREAKING: The Weinstein Company’s Radius-TWC label has acquired Inequality For All, which is playing in the U.S. Competition at Sundance. It’s the fourth pickup in Park City for Radius, which overnight nailed down Lovelace starring Amanda Seyfried and also acquired Twenty Feet From Stardom and Concussion here.
In Inequality, noted economic policy director Robert Reich distills the topic of widening income inequality and addresses the question of what effects this increasing gap has on our economy and our democracy. Inequality premiered Saturday at the Prospector Square Park Theatre and bidding went on all night with several suitors before TWC emerged in an exclusive negotiation this morning. The plan is to release the Jacob Kornbluth-directed pic in summer 2013. Producers are Jen Chaiken and Sebastian Dungan of 72 Productions.
UPDATE: The deal is official, with Radius-TWC planning a fall 2013 release date. The company’s release is after the original story.
EXCLUSIVE: After a late-night Sundance courtship, Radius-TWC is closing a deal to acquire Lovelace in a deal that will climax in the range of $3 million, I hear. Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, the film stars Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace, who headlined the 1972 pornographic film hit Deep Throat, which captured the zeitgeist. But she was manipulated and bullied into participating in a film which became a financial juggernaut by her coercive boyfriend Chuck Traynor, who is played by Peter Sarsgaard. Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco and Sharon Stone also star.
The picture, which premiered Tuesday night at the Eccles Theatre, had several buyers massing, but Radius-TWC heads Tom Quinn and Jason Janego moved aggressively to make a deal with Millennium Films heads Avi Lerner and Mark Gill. Millennium financed a film whose edgy, racy subject matter and star casting should hit a strong mark as a multi-platform title. This goes down as the third Sundance deal for the multi-platform division of The Weinstein Company, which got underway last year as it landed Bachelorette and made that edgy comedy a big VOD hit. Radius-TWC got this fest off to a start when it acquired the acclaimed docu on backup singers Twenty Feet From Stardom, and then bought the drama Concussion.
EXCLUSIVE: Radius-TWC has just closed what I’m told is a low 7-figure deal for Concussion, a drama about a fortysomething wealthy, married, lesbian housewife who gets beaned by a baseball and strangely reflects on a life that she realizes is wanting and leads her to lead a secret life on the side. It’ll get a multi-platform release in a deal brokered by Paradigm. IFC and Magnolia also chased.
Here is the official announcement from Radius-TWC, which just confirmed Deadline’s scoop.
RADiUS – TWC proudly announced tonight that it
has acquired North American rights to CONCUSSION, one of the most provocative
and well received films at this year’s Festival that is drawing endless
comparisons to BELLE DE JOUR.