Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures made a surprise move Tuesday when it bought U.S. distribution rights to Harmony Korine’s new film “Spring Breakers” ahead of its world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival Wednesday, September 5. To date known only as a production and financing entity, Annapurna has no distribution infrastructure and merely states in its news release that “additional distribution information will be revealed at a later date.”
During Cannes, Ellison launched an international sales division called Panorama Media, but French outfit Kinology already reps “Spring Breakers” overseas.
The story of four college-age women who get involved with a local thug after their plan to rob a fast-food shack to fund their spring break adventure goes awry, “Spring Breakers” will have its North American premiere in Toronto September 7. Written and directed by Korine, the film has preemptive youth appeal off a cast that features James Franco and tween-stars-grown-up Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens in edgy crime-comedy terrain.
Muse Prods.’ Chris Hanley produced the film along with Jordan Gertner, David Zander and Charles-Marie Anthonioz. Ellison picks up an executive producer credit.
CAA and Radar Pictures’ Ted Field (also an exec producer on the film) negotiated the deal with Annapurna.
A relatively new enterprise, Annapurna has provided backing for a number of high-profile auteur-driven projects that hit screens this year, including Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” John Hillcoat’s “Lawless,” Andrew Dominik’s “Killing Them Softly” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.” The company also has Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grandmasters” and new films from Spike Jonze, Bennett Miller and David O. Russell in the works.
While distribution has yet to become a part of Ellison’s ambitious entertainment empire, she has the financial capital to enter the field, and Korine’s relatively modest effort could serve as a low-risk test should she decide to move in that direction. The indie-film industry could always use another strong player in the distribution game, especially if the woman at the wheel not only has deep pockets but also seems determined to back the work of filmmakers devoted to creating original content unsullied by corporate endeavor.
A more likely scenario is that Ellison merely flips the rights to another U.S. distributor or partners with one on a limited release, depending on how the film plays at the two festivals.