EXCLUSIVE: After opening Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life in the U.S., Fox Searchlight presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula have acquired the U.K. rights to the film from Bill Pohlad’s River Road Entertainment, which financed the film. They’ve dated the film for July 8 opening in the U.K. The film, which stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, opened right after it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Its four screen average of $93,230 per theater beat Searchlight’s launch of Black Swan. The film has added eight markets and will add another 12 this week to a total of 22.
“We knew this was an amazing film from the moment we saw it,” Gilula and Utley said. Pohlad added: “Fox Searchlight has been an extraordinary partner distributing our film in the United States, so we’re thrilled to have them release The Tree of Life in the United Kingdom, allowing international audiences to experience Terry’s beautiful and affecting masterpiece.” Pohlad produced the film with Sarah Green, Pitt, Dede Gardner and Grant Hill.
I saw the film at its Cannes premiere, where I think I actually glimpsed Malick as he took in the cheers. Much like Pohlad said in an interview we did about the long road to bring that film to the screen, it is one of those movies where you can’t help but factor your own baggage from your upbringing and your experience of raising your own children into how you evaluate what you’ve seen. Scenes from the movie play back in my mind still, even though I’m not sure I fully understood everything I saw. It’s nice to be challenged that way on occasion in a theater.
When I met with Fox Searchlight presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley at the Cannes Film Festival, it seemed clear that they were not going to take part in one of the most aggressive acquisitions market that Cannes has seen in years. But not only did they walk away with the Palme d’Or prestige badge that will help Terrence Malick’s visionary The Tree of Life find its way when Searchlight releases it in theaters beginning Friday, they also greenlit the first film by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris since Little Miss Sunshine. The new film, He Loves Me, is a reunion. Besides being back in the Searchlight fold, they’ve set as star Paul Dano, whose career was launched by Sunshine. Dano will be paired alongside his girlfriend, Zoe Kazan, who wrote the script. The film also reunites Dayton and Faris with Sunshine producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa. Jeff Bridges is being courted to play another role. After Little Miss Sunshine won two Oscars and was a Best Picture nominee, Dayton and Faris were courted like crazy by studios and became attached to a number of projects that didn’t pan. It has been five years since the release of that film, but they start production in July. Read More »
Fox Searchlight has acquired the Terrence Malick-directed The Tree of Life from Bill Pohlad’s River Road Entertainment. Though the film might be an awards season magnet with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn starring, the distributor is flush with those kinds of films already, and will release in 2011. At the Toronto International Film Festival, Searchlight will fete 127 Hours, Black Swan, Conviction and Never Let Me Go. Read More »