Tonight at 9 PM, American Masters for its 200th episode unveils the Shane Salerno-directed documentary on the life of J.D. Salinger, followed by Charlie Rose’s interview with the filmmaker who spent a decade and his own money uncovering secrets of …
EXCLUSIVE: In what might be the last big material sale of the year, Skydance Productions has acquired in a pre-emptive seven-figure deal an untitled science fiction project based on an original idea by Shane Salerno, who is currently co-writing one of the three Avatar sequels for James …
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
The weekend boasted a hefty number of Specialty newcomers though that translated into mostly unimpressive results. Most new titles this weekend will likely have short big screen lives. The Weinstein Company’s Salinger, however, skirted that 3-day trend with a gross of just under $91K and a cool $22,742 average putting it in the top tier of documentary openers this year, though titles such as The Act Of Killing ($27,450) and Stories We Tell ($27,053) still showed more opening muscle.
“There’s a lot of stuff about Salinger people want to hear and it’s a unique film,” said TWC’s Erik Lomis ahead of this weekend’s release. “It will get buzz and it’s worth the watch.” Following this weekend’s limited roll out, Salinger will head to 60 markets in 175 to 200 theaters the following week.
TWC’s French-language comedy Populaire had another new film in theaters, though its numbers were far smaller. Directed by Régis Roinsard, the feature grossed $16,662 for a slow $5,554 average. “It is strictly art house,” said Lomis about the feature. “I think it will appeal to an older audience but it also has a unique style that might play to people over 35.”
Magnolia Pictures also released two titles this weekend, though its theatrical numbers were blasé. Good Ol Freda grossed $8K giving it the weekend’s second best PSA among the newcomers, though that was only in one theater. Its other film, Touchy Feely with Rosemarie DeWitt and Ellen Page, fared worse, only grossing $4K in two theaters. Even director Lynn Shelton’s smaller budget previous film Your Sister’s Sister had an $8,402 opening weekend PSA in 13 theaters when it opened in June, 2012. Both Good Ol Freda and Touchy Feely were available via VOD/day and date.
As the 40th Annual Telluride Film Festival winds down, The Weinstein Company has kept a relatively low profile for most of the fest. But TWC caused a stir in offering up the World Premiere and first public screening ever of Salinger, writer/director/producer Shane Salerno‘s riveting and stunning portrait of reclusive author J.D. Salinger. The documentary begins its theatrical run on Friday and will appear on PBS‘ American Masters in January. It should be a certain Oscar contender for Best Documentary Feature, not only for its superb execution but also as an investigative piece that has elicited major revelations about never-before-known Salinger literary works left behind by the author who died in 2010, which are scheduled now to be released to the world between 2015 and 2020.
The film got a one-time only “surprise” sneak preview (but was tipped over the weekend by Deadline’s Mike Fleming) at the Palm at 9 AM this morning and was followed by an onstage conversation moderated by filmmaker Ken Burns. Salinger historian David Shields, cinematographer Buddy Squires, one-time Salinger muse and friend Jean Miller were in attendance joined via Skype by Salerno and Salinger friend/one-time editor A.E. Hotchner. Early reaction from the packed screening was thumbs up, even for a movie-satiated crowd who have been watching one great film after another since the festival began on Thursday.
A plane bound from Denver to the Tellluride Film Festival with 10 passengers crash-landed today when its left-side landing gear collapsed and it skidded upon landing at the Telluride airport. Salinger documentary co-author David Shields and Weinstein PR executive Emmy Chang were reported aboard. No injuries were reported.
Deadlne readers have known since J.D. Salinger’s death in 2010 that Shane Salerno’s feature documentary would spill secrets about the reclusive author. And Harvey Weinstein took to asking journalists to preserve reveals as he got them …
Sixty-plus years after The Catcher In The Rye began the public’s fascination with enigmatic author J.D. Salinger, a new documentary and book are ready to spill some secrets about him. Just keep them to yourselves, please. The …
The Weinstein Company has released its first trailer for Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed documentary that Harvey Weinstein acquired after he and his team were the only film guys to see the film, the morning of the …
TOLDJA! Weinstein Company Confirms Worldwide Rights Deal For Shane Salerno Docu ‘Salinger;’ Sets September 6 Release
BREAKING: The Weinstein Company finally confirmed what Deadline told you exclusively on February 27: that the studio acquired theatrical rights to Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed feature documentary on JD Salinger, the reclusive author of The Catcher In The Rye. TWC has set a September 6 theatrical release for the film. As Deadline reported, the deal is seven figures, around $2 million, and covers world rights except for the previous deal that licensed U.S. television rights to PBS’ American Masters. This was one of the most unusual deals in awhile, and came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film on the morning of the Academy Awards.
TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. Salerno and his lawyer Robert Offer made three big deals for the movie, showing it only to parties that made deals, which allowed the filmmaker to avoid any leakage of revelations in the film that might have resulted with a screening for multiple buyers. It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields. So the movie has played three times, and resulted in deals north of $5 million, making it one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary. It took Salerno eight years and $2 million of his own money to make the movie and the book happen. Here is the official release from TWC:
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has acquired theatrical rights to Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed feature documentary on the reclusive author of The Catcher In The Rye. The deal is seven figures, around $2 million, and covers world rights except for the previous deal that licensed U.S. television rights to PBS’ American Masters. The plan is to release later this year for Oscar season, and the deal came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film Sunday morning, the day of the Academy Awards. TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. While everyone was partying over the Oscar weekend, TWC acquired Grace of Monaco with Nicole Kidman and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom with Idris Elba. All three of these films will be in the Oscar season discussion, as will Fruitvale, the film that came out of Sundance with strong buzz, and which TWC also acquired. After two years of winning Best Picture, Harvey Weinstein watched Argo best his two candidates, Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained. Looks like he really, really wants to be in the winner’s circle again.
That validates an unusual sales strategy that Salerno employed on the film with his lawyer Robert Offer. It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal. The plan is to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series, early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields.
Now, the documentary distribution rights are being sold to the only distributor that saw the film. I’m told that the entire deal for theatrical, publishing and U.S. TV rights will be north of $5 million, one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary.
For Salerno, this completes an eight year odyssey, and he has been made whole after investing $2 million of his own money into the documentary and the book. It also closes the circle for me; shortly after I arrived from Variety to Deadline Hollywood, Salinger passed away. This was not long after I’d seen an early cut of Salerno’s film. I thought it was absolutely fascinating. I haven’t seen it since, and the discretion shown in the dealmaking process indicates there are secrets that were held back. But here is what I said about it back then:
2ND UPDATE, 9:23 AM: It has been quite a week for J.D. Salinger. The Shane Salerno documentary Salinger has been shown to only two parties so far, and in both cases, the result was a smashing deal. First to see it was the American Masters team, which quickly paid low-seven figures to license U.S. domestic TV rights and make it the 200th installment of the prestigious program in January. Second to see it were the Simon & Schuster editors, who quickly made a worldwide rights deal on the companion book, The Private War Of J.D. Salinger. Agency sources tell me that deal was closer to $2 million than $1 million for the sprawling book by David Shields and Salerno. It will be published in September, just ahead of the theatrical release.
Next up: the feature distribution deal. I don’t get the impression there will be a big gang bang screening and then an auction; it will be a subtler, more selective process than that. But the goal is to lock in a distributor who’ll give it a nice theatrical play in the months before the American Masters premiere next year, and figure out DVD and those other ancillaries excluding U.S. domestic TV rights. By the time all this is done, it should be a nice outcome for Salerno and the eight years and $2 million he invested to assemble both the film and the book.