Focus World, the alternative distribution initiative of Focus Features, is partnering with Screen Media Films on acquiring U.S. rights to The Lifeguard, the Kristen Bell-starrer that debuted at Sundance. The film will hit theaters and digital platforms. Written and directed by Liz W. Garcia, the pic stars Bell as a 30-year-old whose career and love life fall into crisis. She retreats home and regresses back into high school life, hanging with her old pals and reclaiming her old job as a condo complex lifeguard. Mamie Gummer, Martin Starr and Amy Madigan also star. Bell, who stars in Showtime’s House Of Lies, just spearheaded a successful Kickstarter funding campaign that means she’ll also star in a movie version of her series Veronica Mars. CAA repped Lifeguard.
Indie distributor Screen Media Films unveiled today seven movies that it will release this year under new president Suzanne Blech, who could add to that list as she’s a buyer at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. One of the films is the Matt D’Elia-directed SXSW title American Animal, which Screen Media acquired earlier this month. Blech said the company eventually will release a minimum of 12 films during the year and an additional 30 direct to the marketplace. Here’s the slate so far:
GOOD FOR NOTHING – directed by Mike Wallis, who has worked on films ranging from “Avatar” to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the film stars Inge Rademeyer and Cohen Holloway in this gritty and entertaining western that follows a young English woman who is kidnapped by a rugged outlaw while attempting to immigrate to her uncle’s ranch. As they continue west, emotions run high and feelings begin to change, leading to new discoveries and heightened drama. This hold-onto-your-hat western creatively rekindles the feelings of the Old West.
AMERICAN ANIMAL – directed by Matt D’Elia and starring D’Elia, Brendan Fletcher, Mircea Monroe, and Angela Sarafyan, this loud, irreverent comedy features Jimmy, a terminally ill young man with a penchant for waxing philosophical and sudden costume changes. His hedonistic world of casual sex, drinking and board games get derailed when he learns that his best friend and roommate, James, has gotten a job. The film premiered last year at SXSW Film Festival.
Another worthy independent film that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival has found distribution. Screen Media Films has acquired North American rights to White Irish Drinkers, a hard-edged coming of age story set in 1975 Brooklyn. Written and directed by John Gray. A spring 2011 theatrical release is planned. Two teenage brothers try to figure out what to do with their lives, each badly bruised from being raised to be terrified by the drunken rages of their father. That role is played by Avatar’s Stephen Lang who plays a hard-drinking Irish blue collar worker handing down the lessons of becoming a man that he learned from his father: repress emotion, and rule with an iron fist. One brother is an art prodigy conflicted about showing his talent, and the other is creeping into the fringes of being a criminal. The drama centers around a deal to have the Rolling Stones come to Brooklyn for a one night only performance, which has implications for all the major characters.
Screen Media Films has picked up U.S. distribution rights to director Eric Mendelsohn’s 3 Backyards, starring Embeth Davidtz, Edie Falco and Elias Koteas. 3 Backyards dives into the lives of three residents of a small town over the course of one day. Screen Media is planning on a release date some time in the first half of 2011. Meanwhile, Phase 4 …