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Magnolia Goes for SXSW Pot Doc "Square Grouper"

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire February 8, 2011 at 6:51AM

Magnolia Pictured has picked up world rights to the documentary "Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja," from Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman, the filmmakers behind "Cocaine Boys" and ESPN's "The U," ahead of its world premiere at SXSW.
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Magnolia Pictured has picked up world rights to the documentary "Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja," from Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman, the filmmakers behind "Cocaine Boys" and ESPN's "The U," ahead of its world premiere at SXSW.

"Square Grouper" tells three separate stories to present a portrait of South Florida's pot smuggling culture in the 1970s.

"Billy and Alfred have struck gold again with 'Square Grooper.' They are consistently making some of the most entertaining docs of anyone working today,” said Magnolia SVP Tom Quinn.

"We’re thrilled to be back in business with our friends at Magnolia,” added Spellman. "They have proven to be terrific partners with a keen understanding of the marketplace, a fine appreciation of our work and a high tolerance for our nonsense."

Following the SXSW premiere, Magnolia plans to tour it in 40 college campuses in select metro markets and release it later in the year.

Full release below:

Magnolia Pictures Acquires World Rights to Marijuana Doc SQUARE GROUPER: THE GODFATHERS OF GANJA

New York, NY – February 8, 2011 – The Wagner/Cuban Company's Magnolia Pictures announced today they have acquired all world rights to SQUARE GROUPER: THE GODFATHERS OF GANJA, a wildly entertaining doc about pot smuggling in 1970s South Florida from Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman of rakontur, the filmmakers behind the globally popular Cocaine Cowboys series and ESPN’s The U.

Named after the bales of marijuana that were often caught in the warm Florida coastal waters by unsuspecting fishermen, SQUARE GROUPER is a vivid portrait of South Florida’s pot smuggling culture in the 1970s. It focuses on three incredible stories from the era: the infamous Black Tuna Gang, a group of savvy smugglers led by Robert Platshorn, the longest serving marijuana prisoner in US History; the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, whose members (including children) all smoked marijuana from morning till night, and ran a massive pot dealing operation out of Miami Beach’s exclusive Star Island; and Everglades City, a tiny fishing village 80 miles west of Miami with an brazenly outlaw history of smuggling, from endangered animals, to rum, to weed.

Directed by Corben and produced by Spellman, SQUARE GROUPER will be making its world premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, and will be released by Magnolia Pictures later this year. The first of a recently negotiated first look deal between rakontur and Magnolia, the film will be brought to the Berlin European Film Market this week and represented by Magnolia International.

Magnolia’s plans for distribution in 2011 include a 40 city tour of college campuses in select metro markets following the SXSW premiere, coordinated by Todd Sklar of Range Life Entertainment. Robert Platshorn of the Black Tuna Gang will embark on a speaking tour in conjunction with the release. The film will be screened at the High Times Medicinal Cannabis Cup in Denver, CO on April 1, 2011, and both High Times and NORML will partner with Magnolia to promote select preview screenings.

The DVD will launch on 4/19, in commemoration of 4/20.

“Billy and Alfred have struck gold again with SQUARE GROUPER. They are consistently making some of the most entertaining docs of anyone working today,” said Magnolia SVP Tom Quinn. “Fans of Cocaine Cowboys and The U are going to love SQUARE GROUPER.”

“We’re thrilled to be back in business with our friends at Magnolia,” said rakontur’s Spellman. “They have proven to be terrific partners with a keen understanding of the marketplace, a fine appreciation of our work and a high tolerance for our nonsense.”

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia SVP Tom Quinn with Alfred Spellman.

This article is related to: Acquisitions






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