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Focus Makes $20 Million P&A Deal For River Road, Participant And Lionsgate Intl-Funded Juan Antonio Bayona-Helmed ‘A Monster Calls’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In the third huge pre-buy deal this year,bayona Focus Features is committing $20 million in P&A to release A Monster Calls, a film that will be financed by River Road Entertainment and Participant Media. The film will be the next directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, who helmed the tsunami film The Impossible and made his breakthrough on The Orphanage. The film is an adaptation of the children’s fantasy novel series by Patrick Ness and it is already on course to begin production this fall for release in 2016. The novel focuses on a young lad who tries to deal with school bullies and his mother’s illness by losing himself into a vivid world of monsters and fairy tales. Ness adapted his own prize-winning work.

monstercIn the configuration taking shape, Focus releases the film wide domestically and Universal Pictures International releases in Spain. Lionsgate International is a key piece of this puzzle, as Patrick Washsberger’s troops will sell all other world territories. Producing is Belen Atienza, who teamed with Bayona on his films and produced Pan’s Labyrinth. Bill Pohlad’s River Road is coming off the Best Picture for 12 Years A Slave, and I’m told Pohlad and his team will exec produce with Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and his team, along with Wachsberger.

This becomes the first major deal for Peter Schlessel since James Schamus and Andrew Karpen left Focus and Schlessel merged his FilmDistrict shingle in the company and took the reins. While Bayona is separately attached to helm a sequel to the zombie saga World War Z 2, this film will come first. Read More »

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River Road Acquires ‘Fordlandia’ And Sets Ben Coccio To Write The Script

By | Thursday August 23, 2012 @ 12:59pm PDT
Mike Fleming

River Road Entertainment has acquired the rights to Pulitzer Prize finalist Greg Grandin’s Fordlandia: The Rise And Fall Of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City. Screenwriter Ben Coccio, who most recently penned Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, will write the script. River Road’s Bill Pohlad will produce.

The 2009 book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The film will be based on the experiences of the American men who carried out the imperialistic ambitions of Henry Ford to build a utopian American industrial town in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. More than a cautionary tale of a tycoon’s ill-fated attempt to force order on nature, Fordlandia reasons that the forces of capitalism, once released, cannot be contained.

Christa Zofcin negotiated the deals on behalf of River Road. Author Greg Grandin is represented by APA and the Susan Rabiner Agency. Ben Coccio is represented by CAA and Media Talent Group.

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CANNES: Q&A With Bill Pohlad, Producer And Financier Of Terrence Malick’s ‘The Tree Of Life’

Mike Fleming

What a difference a year makes. On the eve of 2010 Cannes, Bill Pohlad’s plan to build Apparition into a powerhouse specialty film distributor was dashed by Bob Berney’s stunning decision to take an out in his contract, just as Pohlad and the Apparition team were boarding flights to Nice. A year later, Pohlad is back not as distributor, but producer and financier of  The Tree of Life, the Fox Searchlight/River Road film that is hottest ticket on the Croisette. Here, Pohlad addresses his experiences at Apparition and collaborating with Terrence Malick, and the increasing role that high net worth individuals play in empowering prestige filmmakers to realize their visions.

DEADLINE: Bob Berney’s exit prompted you to shutter Apparition. Will you get back into the distribution game?

POHLAD: I don’t know. I always remain open. But right now, I’m concentrating on this film, and the other productions and development we are doing. We’ve got a couple of great things going here. I always stay open to things, but there’s nothing actively going on after Apparition.

DEADLINE: You return with The Tree of Life, which probably has the highest level of wanna see of any picture here. What made you decide to fund this, and how far back does that decision go?

POHLAD: Pretty far back. One of the first things we got involved in was the Che project, when Terry was going to direct. … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Tree of Life’

By | Wednesday December 15, 2010 @ 4:07pm PST
Mike Fleming

A new trailer is up for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, the passion project of Bill Pohlad’s River Road that will be distributed next year by Fox Searchlight.

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