Magnolia Pictures has acquired “The Queen of Versailles.” It’s the second theatrical distribution purchase that’s been announced in as many hours during the first full day of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
TV and international are in discussion for Lauren Greenfield’s documentary, which Magnolia plans to release this summer.
The film is the story of billionaires Jackie and David Siegel, who celebrate their wealth by building a 90,000 square-foot home — only to see a dark economic turn of events when the financial market collapses in 2008.
“The Queen of Versailles” premiered as the opening-night selection of the festival’s U.S. documentary competition section. (Here’s Eric Kohn’s review from last night.) Jackie Siegel attended the screening and walked the red carpet outside the Eccles Theater.
The film generated considerable pre-festival controversy when David Siegel filed a lawsuit over the film’s original description as written by Sundance director John Cooper; Siegel took offense at the idea that the film showed a journey of “rags to riches to rags and denied that his massive home had been foreclosed.
Wrote Kohn of the film:
Siegel’s expression reveals far more than he’s willing to openly admit. After the suave confidence he displays in earlier scenes, his face starts to sag under the pressure of evident defeat. Beyond the schadenfreude-like kick of watching unmitigated royalty crash and burn, the gradual unraveling of Siegel’s lifestyle puts the shock effect of the 2008 recession into sensational physical terms. When the family’s capitalistic delusions melt away, the saving grace of “Queen of Versailles” arrives when Siegel’s confidence crashes even harder than his bank account.
Producers are Greenfield, Danielle Renfrew Behrens, Frank Evers and Dan Cogan.
“The Queen of Versailles” brilliantly encapsulates the salient issues of the American economic downturn, while also being one of the jaw-droppingly entertaining films I’ve seen in a very long time,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “Lauren Greenfield is an exceptionally talented filmmaker with a wonderfully humanistic touch, and she has found a truly magnetic, charismatic star in Jackie Siegel.”
“I am really excited to be working with Magnolia, who we huddled with late into last night,” said Greenfield. “I feel like we have found a true kindred spirit, who cares as much about our film as we do. I am really looking forward to working with such a smart, impressive team.”
Repping Magnolia in the was senior VP Acquisitions Dori Begley, with Submarine’s Josh Braun and David Koh representing the producers.