By Brian Brooks | Indiewire September 9, 2010 at 2:26AM
The initial biz in Toronto has started with this morning's announcement that ATO Pictures has acquired U.S. theatrical rights to George Hickenlooper's "Casino Jack" ahead of its world premiere at the festival, which begins today. ATO, aka "Art Takes Over," picked up the theatrical rights from Rollercoaster Entertainment. The distributor plans a late December release.
Hickenlooper and the cast will all be in Toronto on September 16th for the film’s premiere.
Starring two-time Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey who plays a man "hell bent on acquiring all that the good life has to offer," the film is based on the real-life excesses of disgraced lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. Aided by his business partner Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper), Jack parlays his clout over some of the world's most powerful men with the goal of creating a personal empire of wealth and influence, according to a description by ATO. When the two enlist a mob-connected buddy (Jon Lovitz) to help with one of their illegal schemes, they soon find themselves in over their heads, entrenched in a world of mafia assassins, murder and a scandal that spins so out of control that it makes worldwide headlines.
“We are elated to be releasing 'Casino Jack,'" commented ATO co-founders Johnathan Dorfman and Temple Fennell in a statement. "It is not only one of the most refreshing and entertaining films we’ve seen in a long time, but, it also fits in perfectly with our strategy of releasing high quality, engaging stories that appeal to mainstream audiences. Indie maverick George Hickenlooper’s spectacular direction and Kevin Spacey’s tour de force performance amongst a terrific cast will be celebrated by moviegoers everywhere.”
The film was produced by Gary Howsam, Bill Marks and George Zakk from an original screenplay by Norman Snider. Executive Producers are Richard Rionda Del Castro, Lewin Webb, Donald Zuckerman, Dana Brunetti, Patricia Eberle, Warren Nimchuk, Angelo Paletta and Domenic Serafino. The Associate Producer is Rick Chad.
In a related note, the documentary about Jack Abramoff, "Casino Jack: And The United States of Money," by Alex Gibney premiered at Sundance earlier this year.
ATO releases its films theatrically through its partnership with Samuel Goldwyn Films in the distribution entity, IDP (Independent Distribution Partners). The two companies currently have "Mao's Last Dancer" directed by Academy Award nominee Bruce Beresford in release.