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Sierra/Affinity has added two titles to its lineup for the AFM, both directed by Mike Flanagan, and both originally with the soon-to-shutter Focus Features International. The first is Flanagan’s Oculus, which premiered in Toronto and was acquired by Relativity for U.S. distribution. The other is Flanagan’s follow-up, Somnia, which will star Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane. Flanagan wrote the script with his Oculus partner Jeff Howard (the pair recently sold their original pitch, Peekers, to Lionsgate). Production starts November 11th. Somnia is about an orphaned child whose dreams and nightmares manifest physically as he sleeps. Demarest Films and MICA Entertainment are financing, with Intrepid Pictures’ Trevor Macy and Demarest’s Sam Englebardt and William D. Johnson Producing. Mali Elfman and D. Scott Lumpkin are executive producers. Bosworth is repped by CAA, Radius Entertainment, and Sloane Offer Weber and Dern. Jane is repped by Paradigm and Ziffren Brittenham. Flanagan and Howard are with APA, Affirmative Entertainment, and Nelson Davis Wetzstein.
Image Entertainment has acquired U.S. rights to the actioner Drive Hard starring John Cusack (The Number Station, 2012) and Jane (The Punisher). The pic recently finished production in Australia and is set for a theatrical release next year. Brian Trenchard-Smith directed from a screenplay by Chad and Evan Law about a former race car driver-turned-driver’s training instructor (Jane) who is abducted by a mysterious thief (Cusack) and forced to be the wheelman for a crime that puts both in the sights of the cops and the mob and leads them all on a chase across Australia’s Gold Coast.
Myriad Pictures said it will handle worldwide sales outside the U.S. and Canada on the dramatic thriller Frontera starring Ed Harris, Eva Longoria, and Michael Peña. Michael Berry directed and co-wrote the script with Luis Moulinet III. CAA is repping U.S. and Canadian rights to the pic, which follows the events that take place after a former U.S. sheriff’s wife (Amy Madigan) is fatally injured while riding on her ranch property in the dangerous border area between the U.S. and Mexico. Read More »
BREAKING: Magnolia Pictures is wrapping up a deal worth north of $1 million for S-VHS, after an auction that included Lionsgate and Drafthouse. The deal beats the sum for the first film VHS, which Magnolia also released. The film, which premiered Saturday in Sundance‘s Park City At Midnight section, is a found-footage pic where two private investigators looking for a missing student break into an abandoned house and find a collection of mysterious VHS tapes. They are horrific and shine a light on the motives behind the student’s disappearance. There is a gangbang of directors on this one: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans and Jason Eisener wrote and directed the pic. WME Global‘s Mark Ankner conducted the auction.
Related: Sundance: Magnolia Pictures Acquires ‘Prince Avalanche’
The Bandito Brothers, the group that made the hit Act of Valor, is at it again with The Prototype. This is a hot package for an under $40 million action thriller in the vein of District 9 that wasn’t supposed to be auctioned until after I got back from vacation after July 4. Then the teaser leaked. Andrew Will is the writer and director and his producing partner is Shawn Wallace, and they have been working with Cantina Creative and the Bandito Bros in scouting, designing tests for the action scenes, etc. They worked under radar on Act of Valor, but no such luck this time. I got a peek at the teaser trailer, and it’s pretty impressive. WME Global chief Graham Taylor is getting barraged by calls, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a deal before the holiday. Check it out:
UPDATE: Fox Searchlight has made the deal official. The release is below the original story.
BREAKING: Fox Searchlight has closed its second big deal of the festival, capturing U.S rights to Beasts Of The Southern Wild, the Benh Zeitlin-directed film that created a ton of buzz since its premiere last Friday at the Eccles Theater. Several distributors were chasing, and Searchlight was rumored to be the most eager since that screening. Last night, Fox Searchlight paid $6 million for world rights to The Surrogate. WME Global sold this one.
Zeitlin wrote the script with Lucy Alibar, and the film stars Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry. The logline: Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under in this tale of a 6-year-old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. The film is in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, and to hear festivalgoers tell it, is a strong contender. Last weekend, the film won the Sundance Institute’s Indian Paintbrush Producer’s Award. Here’s the release: Read More »
After the frighteningly high opening gross of Paranormal Activity 3, the appetite for “found footage” horror films clearly hasn’t been sated. Here’s a teaser trailer for Amber Alert, a film that will be shopped at next week’s AFM by WME Global, which is repping worldwide rights. The logline: When a group of friends decides to follow a car they’ve seen posted on an Amber Alert, things start to go very wrong. Amber Alert was directed by Kerry Bellessa and is a co-production between Underground Films and Bluefield Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: A deal is near for Millennium Entertainment to acquire U.S. distribution rights to the Los Angeles Film Festival opening-night pic Bernie. I’m told that it will be the first significant grab for former Film Department co-head Mark Gill since he took the reins of Avi Lerner’s company (UPDATE: reps for the company claim Gill was not involved, though he released Linklater’s Before Sunrise while running Warner Independent, and those reps said the deal was made by Millennium Entertainment’s Bill Lee and Vincent Scordino). The minimum guarantee will be around $2 million with a P&A commitment of around $1 million and the deal should be done by Monday.
Inspired by a true story, the film stars Jack Black as the title character, an amiable funeral director who kills a rich widow (Shirley MacLaine) and creates a ruse that she’s still alive. Matthew McConaughey also stars in a film that’s directed by Richard Linklater. He directed Black in School of Rock and McConaughey in Dazed and Confused. Pic’s a coproduction between Mandalay Vision and Wind Dancer. Cinetic’s John Sloss and WME Global’s Graham Taylor are making the deal. Another deal is in the offing for Canada, putting the North American rights in the $3 million range. The deal certainly helps the LAFF as a showcase for acquisitions, which always helps a festival seem viable.
UPDATE: Relativity Media has closed its deal for Act of Valor, as Deadline revealed earlier today. Press release is below our original break on the deal. Relativity has dated the film for 2012, so I suspect it will be Presidents’ Day weekend in late February.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 1:27 PM: In what will shape up as arguably the biggest money paid for a finished film with an unknown cast, Relativity Media is finalizing a deal where Ryan Kavanaugh’s company will pay a $13 million minimum guarantee and a $30 million P&A commitment for Act of Valor, a mission movie involving Navy SEALs. The film’s being plotted for either a Veterans Day weekend release in November of a Presidents Day release in February.
The film will be the first movie about Navy SEALs to come out since that group killed Osama bin Laden; others SEAL films are percolating including a Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama about the actual hunt for bin Laden that Sony Pictures acquired. In Act of Valor, the half dozen lead roles were played by active-duty Navy SEALs, and the military was behind a picture that was shot under the radar. The picture was scripted by Kurt Johnstad (300) and directed by the Bandito Brothers’ Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh.
I’d heard that the picture was gaining buzz after it was given recruited screenings over the past couple weeks at the Arclight and in New York, and distributors began bidding. … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE:They saved the best for last on the final movie day of the South By Southwest Festival. In the biggest deal of SXSW this year and possibly ever for the Austin fest, Anchor Bay paid low seven figures for U.S. rights to the Xavier Gens-directed genre thriller The Divide. Multiple territories are still in play. France was acquired by BAC Films, and a deal will be made shortly for Canada, with Anchor Bay a contender for that territory as well. Content Film is handling international.
The Divide made its world premiere Sunday at midnight, and the deal was closed this evening by Kevin Iwashina of Preferred Content, WME Global’s Graham Taylor and Anchor Bay’s Kevin Kasha. The Divide is a post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies, set in the basement apartment of a New York building. It’s a gritty film but played through the roof at its premiere. Michael Biehn and Milo Ventimiglia star, and Ross Dinerstein and Darryn Welch produced.
WME Global had a strong SXSW, closing three deals in Austin. In the other two deals brokered by the agency, The Weinstein Company paid low seven figures for the high school gridiron documentary Undefeated, buying distribution and remake rights, and a multi-faceted deal was made by WME Global for the Rodman Flender-directed Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop. That documentary is about the concert tour the late-night host undertook … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It’s almost like the Sundance Film Festival has started, with all the advance acquisition activity. A&E IndieFilm just acquired TV rights to Corman’s World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel, the documentary about low-budget independent icon Roger Corman. A&E becomes an investor in a film that will still be shopped for feature rights, much the way that A&E was a ground floor participant in The Tillman Story, the documentary acquired for theatrical release by The Weinstein Company after its Sundance premiere. Corman will be on hand for Friday night’s world premiere in Park City.
Directed by Alex Stapleton, Corman’s World focuses on Corman’s prolific film output, and also careers that launched in his low-budget factory that include James Cameron, Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Francis Coppola, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jonathan Demme and Martin Scorsese. Many of them tell their stories in the documentary. Howard once told me that at the height of his American Graffiti and Happy Days fame, he went to Corman to horse trade for the chance to direct. He agreed to star in Corman’s Eat My Dust in exchange for the chance to be a second unit director or more, on a future project. Corman rejected a bunch of Howard’s ideas, but while testing titles for Eat My Dust, Corman told Howard that another title, Grand Theft Auto, was an audience pleaser. Howard rushed to fashion a car-crash comedy around it, turning in an outline the next day. … Read More »
Magnolia Pictures has completed an acquisition of I’m Still Here: The Lost Year Of Joaquin Phoenix, the mockumentary that Casey Affleck directed about his brother-in-law’s bizarre transformation from acclaimed actor to debauched hip-hop artist. Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles tells me the film is set for a platform release on September 10, with wide release a week later. Bowles acknowledged the possibility of a festival premiere — I hear Venice or Toronto — and the Magnolia release will include a VOD component.
Phoenix has a relationship with Magnolia that includes Two Lovers, his last film before he took this odd journey. Bowles said Phoenix will be speaking about the pic in some capacity. Bowles said he made the deal after several face-to-face meetings with Affleck and acquired the film over several other bidding outlets. Bowles was among the distributors who attended buyer screenings held on both coasts by sales agent WME Global. Some distribs walked away turned off or confused. They weren’t sure if this was an Andy Kaufman-like hoax, or a great actor’s meltdown. Among other hijinks, Phoenix is seen snorting coke off the breast of a prostitute.
Bowles didn’t say whether he believed the storyline, but he came away confident this was a film he could sell, and that it introduces the work of a real filmmaker in Affleck. “No matter what I thought coming in, I came out feeling this was a pretty amazing piece of work, jaw dropping but dimensional,” … Read More »