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Film Acquisition Rundown, Week of April 11: Lionsgate to Release ‘Cafe Society,’ Sundance Selects Buys Before Cannes

Film Acquisition Rundown, Week of April 11: Lionsgate to Release 'Cafe Society,' Sundance Selects Buys Before Cannes

Keep up with the wild and wooly world of indie film acquisitions with our weekly Rundown of everything that’s been picked up around the globe. Check out last week’s Film Acquisition Rundown to find out what films got new homes and are coming to a theater or streaming platform near you.

– Out of CinemeCon, Amazon Studios Roy Price announced to the convention crowd that the online streaming outfit is teaming with Lionsgate to give their Cannes Film Festival opener, Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society,” a theatrical release in August. “A good robust theatrical run is good for everyone. Therefore, almost all of our films will have full theatrical releases. Our goals are aligned with exhibition,” Price said. Other Amazon films that are due for theatrical runs include “Love & Friendship” and “Manchester by the Sea.”

– FilmRise has picked up U.S. rights to the Sundance standout “White Girl,” and is planning a theatrical release in late summer or early fall of this year. Elizabeth Wood’s controversial film premiered at the festival back in January, where the semi-autobiogprahical feature wowed audiences. The film stars Morgan Saylor, Brian Marc, Justin Bartha and Chris Noth and follows a college sophomore as she embarks on an unexpected (and dangerous) new romance.

– The distributor has also purchased the North American rights for Sonia Kennebeck’s haunting drone warfare documentary, “National Bird,” which debuted at Berlin and will next screen at Tribeca. The film will be released theatrically in 2016.
– Ahead of their Cannes premieres, Sundance Selects has picked up U.S. rights for Cristian Mungiu’s “Graduation” and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s “The Unknown Girl.” Both films will premiere in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. “Graduation” is a family drama “that centers on themes of parenting set against the backdrop of a small Romanian town where everybody knows everybody,” while “The Unknown Girl” plunges into a strange and horrific tragedy when a young girl’s body is found and a doctor makes it her business to find out who she was. These purchases continue strong bonds between Sundance Selects and all three filmmakers, as the new pickups mark the third film each that Sundance Selects is releasing with Mungiu and the Dardennes, respectively. 

– Gravitas Features is also picking up a Sundance holdover, and the indie distributor has purchased North American rights to the docu-horror feature “The Blackout Experiments.” Directed by Rich Fox, the film debuted in the Midnight section at this year’s festival, where it terrified audiences with its focus on the so-called “Blackout,” an immersive horror experience that serves as the backdrop for a group of friends to share their obsession with the event on film. The film will arrive in theaters and On Demand on July 8.
– In advance of its Tribeca bow, FilmBuff has bought the rights to Oliver Thompson’s “Welcome to Happiness.” The film is billed as “a unique comedy/drama/fantasy” and stars a stacked cast of stars, including Kyle Gallner, Nick Offerman, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Thirlby and Frances Conroy. The film previously screened at 2015 Newport Beach Film Festival, 2015 Napa Valley Film Festival, 2015 Cucalorus Film Festival, 2015 La Costa Film Festival, 2015 Dances with Films Festival, 2015 deadCENTER Film Festival, 2016 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, and the 2016 Phoenix Film Festival. FilmBuff will release it theatrically and On Demand on May 20.

– Momentum Pictures has picked up the North American theatrical distribution to director Kevin Pollak’s “The Late Bloomer,” starring J.K. Simmons, Johnny Simmons, Maria Bello, Brittany Snow, Jane Lynch, Kumail Nanjiani, Beck Bennett, Paul Wesley, Ken Marino, Ileana Douglas, Charlotte McKinney, Vanessa Ragland, Blake Cooper and Lenora Crichlow. The film is loosely based on the book, “Man Made: A Memoir of My Body,” and is the true story of E! News Correspondent, Ken Baker. The film is “a fictionalized account” that follows “a thirty-year-old sex therapist (Johnny Simmons) that has never gone through puberty has his world turned upside-down after the removal of a benign brain tumor.”
– The Orchard has snapped up the worldwide distribution rights for director Lydia Tenaglia’s tasty Tribeca documentary premiere, “Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent.” CNN still retains North American broadcast rights and will air the documentary on the network following its theatrical release by The Orchard, expected in early 2017. The film is a loving look at the wild chef Jeremiah Tower, and is poised to be one of the festival’s most delicious treats. 

– Joe Begos’ thriller “The Mind’s Eye” has found a home at RLJ Entertainment, who will release the film in theaters and On Demand later this year. The film made its world premiere at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and won the award for Best Director, Horror Feature at the 2015 Fantastic Fest. The film follows a pair who have telekinetic powers and are unexpectedly forced to protect them at all costs. 

– Grasshopper Film has acquired all U.S. distribution rights to “Portrait of a Garden,” the acclaimed documentary directed by Rosie Stapel  that premiered at the recent Berlin Film Festival. The doc follows a year in the “life” of a historic garden and is billed as a lush treat for gardeners and nature lovers alike. The film will open theatrically this fall.

– Tribeca offering “As I Open My Eyes” is off to a solid start at the New York City festival, as Kino Lorber has picked up all U.S. and Canadian rights to Leyla Bouzid’s debut feature. The “music-filled, French-Tunisian production is set in Tunis, summer 2010, a few months before the Revolution, and depicts the clash between culture and family as seen through the eyes of a young Tunisian woman balancing the traditional expectations of her family with her creative life, as the singer in a politically charged rock band.” Kino Lorber will open the film at New York’s Lincoln Plaza Cinemas on September 9. A digital and home media release is set for early 2017.
– Matson Films will release Jillian Elizabeth and Neil Dalal’s acclaimed film “Gurukulam (One Without A Second)” in New York on June 3 and Los Angeles on June 10, with a multi-city roll-out to 50 plus cities to follow. The film “follows a group of students and their teacher as they confront fundamental questions about the nature of reality and self-identity.”

– Award-winning doc “Speed Sisters” has zipped into a new home with First Run Features, who have picked up the U.S. rights to the film, which follows the first all-woman race car driving team in the Middle East. Directed and produced by Amber Fares, the film debuted at Hot Docs in 2015, before going on to a very successful worldwide festival run. First Run will open the film theatrically this year.

– The Nicolas Cage- and Elijah Wood-starring “The Trust” is now available on DIRECTV CINEMA a full month before it hits theaters on May 13. The SXSW debut follows “two nobody police officers working dull administrative jobs. They’re making extra money selling stolen Civil Service Exams to other officers. When Stone hears a story about a heroin dealer quickly beating his extremely high bail, the 2 friends set into motion a plan to find the origin of such a large amount of cash. Through diligent police work they follow a trail that leads directly to a custom bank-style vault built into the back room freezer of a small grocery store. By the time they figure out what the vault contains, it’s already too late to turn back.”

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