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Film Acquisition Rundown: Kino Lorber Picks Up ‘Dawson City,’ Magnolia Buys ‘Lucky‘ and More

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.

Harry Dean Stanton Lucky


Magnolia Pictures

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 Rundown here.

Kino Lorber has acquired the North American rights to Bill Morrison’s “Dawson City: Frozen Time,” about the true history of a collection of 533 reels of film (representing 372 titles) dating from the 1910s to 1920s, which were lost for over 50 years until being discovered buried in a sub-arctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory. The film tells the unique history of a Canadian gold rush town and how cinema, capitalism and history intersect.

“Dawson City” had its world premiere at the 73rd Venice Film Festival and North American premiere at 2016 New York Film Festival. The film also played at the BFI/London Film Festival and the 2017 Rotterdam International Film Festival, and screened Thursday at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles. “Dawson City” will have its New York theatrical premiere at the IFC Center on June 9 and will open in Los Angeles on June 16 at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre.

READ MORE: Film Acquisition Rundown: Fox Searchlight Picks Up ‘The Spy With No Name,’ FilmRise Buys ‘Marjorie Prime’ and More

Magnolia Pictures has acquired the U.S. and international rights to actor John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut “Lucky.” The comedic drama stars Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr. and Tom Skerritt and had its world-premiere at SXSW. Magnolia plans to release the film theatrically later this year.

“Lucky” follows the spiritual journey of a 90-year-old atheist (Stanton) and the quirky characters that inhabit his off the map desert town. Having out lived and out smoked all of his contemporaries, the fiercely independent Lucky finds himself at the precipice of life, thrust into a journey of self-exploration, leading towards that which is so often unattainable: enlightenment. Beth Grant, James Darren, Barry Shabaka Henley and Yvonne Huff Lee round out the cast.

– PBS Distribution has acquired the North American rights to “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” directed by acclaimed documentarian Steve James (“Hoop Dreams,” “The Interrupters,” “Life Itself”). PBS Distribution plans a theatrical release this Spring starting in New York City at the IFC Center on May 19, 2017.

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”

PBS Distribution

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves—and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community—over the course of a five-year legal battle.

– PBS Distribution has also acquired the North American rights to “Dolores,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year in the U.S. Documentary Competition category. “Dolores” sheds light on an enigmatic, intensely private woman who is among the most important yet little-known workers’ rights activists in American history—Dolores Huerta.

The film will be released theatrically this fall and will make its broadcast premiere on PBS in 2018. This is the first film acquisition since PBS and PBS Distribution announced plans to expand theatrical distribution efforts for independent film.

– Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired the North American rights to “Bad Day for the Cut,” Deadline reports. The revenge thriller marks the debut feature from director Chris Baugh, and will hit theaters later this year. The film played in the Sundance Film Festival’s Midnight section.

Bad Day for the Cut

“Bad Day for the Cut”

Sundance Film Festival

“Bad Day for the Cut” stars Nigel O’Neill (“Game of Thrones”) as Donal, a middle-aged man seeking to avenge the death of his mother. Written by Baugh and Brendan Mullin, the film co-stars Susan Lynch, Józef Pawlowski, Stella McCusker and Stuart Graham co-star.

– Kino Lorber has acquired most North American rights to “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” a documentary about the role of Native Americans in contemporary music. The film had its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the festival’s World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling. Co-written and co-directed by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana, “Rumble” exposes a critical missing chapter of Rock history, revealing how Indigenous musicians helped shape the soundtracks of many generations.

The film stars Link Wray, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson, Jesse Ed Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Randy Castillo, Taboo, Martin Scorsese, Quincy Jones, Steven Tyler, Steven Van Zandt, Iggy Pop, Tony Bennett, George Clinton, Slash, Taylor Hawkins and Robert Trujillo. A New York theatrical premiere is set for July 26, 2017, at New York’s Film Forum before a national expansion during the summer.

– The Orchard and Topic, First Look Media’s new entertainment studio, have partnered to acquire the North American rights to Jairus McLeary and Blanketfort Media’s “The Work,” winner of the 2017 SXSW Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary. The Orchard plans a theatrical release this fall.

“The Work”

Joe Wigdahl Photography

Co-directed by Gethin Aldous, “The Work” is an immersive film shot entirely inside Folsom Prison, where convicts and civilian volunteers run a one a kind social justice program. Offering a powerful and rare look past the cinder block walls, steel doors and dehumanizing tropes in our culture, “The Work” reveals a movement of change and redemption that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation.

– RLJ Entertainment has acquired the U.S. rights to the action-comedy “Once Upon a Time in Venice,” directed by Mark Cullen. The film will hit theaters and VOD on June 16. “Once Upon a Time in Venice” marks the second collaboration between Bruce Willis and writers Mark Cullen and Robb Cullen, who previously worked on the action-comedy “Cop Out” in 2010. The film stars an ensemble cast including John Goodman, Thomas Middleditch, Jason Momoa, Famke Janssen, Adam Goldberg and Kal Penn. “Once Upon a Time in Venice” tells the story of Venice Beach P.I. Steve Ford (Willis), a detective who’s good with the ladies, bad with the punches, and wild about his dog, Buddy. When his beloved pet is stolen by local thugs, Steve makes a questionable alliance with their devious leader, Spider (Jason Momoa).

– In a new release partnership, Ryan Bruce Levey Film Distribution and Altered Innocence will release the Berlinale prize-winning film “Violet.” The film  tells the story of 15-year-old Jesse, who witnesses the murder of his best friend. Directed by Bas Devos, the film will open in Los Angeles, Toronto and New Orleans beginning May 12 before expanding to additional markets. Ryan Bruce Levey will release the film theatrically while Altered Innocence will handle digital, Blu-ray and DVD rights.

– Artsploitation Films has acquired the U.S. rights to the Australian horror film “Red Christmas,” directed by veteran television director-producer Craig Anderson. The dark, violent and sickly twisted tale had its World Premiere at the Sydney Film Festival, its North American Premiere at Fantasia Festival and its European Premiere at London’s Frightfest.

Red Christmas

“Red Christmas”

Artsploitation Films

The film stars (and was co-produced by) horror film acting legend, Dee Wallace as the mother of a squabbling family, gathered together in a remote Outback estate on Christmas Eve. When a mysterious, deformed young man named Cletus appears at their door, things soon go from petty insults to bloody, imaginatively orchestrated violence as Wallace attempts to protect her family from the vengeful intruder.

– Saban Films has acquired the North American rights to John Stockwell’s “Armed Response.” The film stars Wesley Snipes, Anne Heche, WWE Superstar Seth Rollins, KISS’s Gene Simmons and Dave Annable.

A sci-fi thriller written by Matt Savelloni, the film follows a team of highly trained operatives who find themselves trapped inside an isolated military compound after its AI is suddenly shut down. The crew begins to experience strange and horrific phenomena as they attempt to uncover what killed the previous team. WWE Studios President Michael Luisi produced the film along with Gene Simmons under their Erebus Pictures banner.

Most recently, Saban Films acquired North American distribution rights to Alexandros Avranas’ “True Crimes,” starring Golden Globe Winner Jim Carrey and Charlotte Gainsbourg. At SXSW, Saban Films and DirecTV acquired Eshom and Ian Nelms’ “Small Town Crime,” starring John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, Robert Forster, and Octavia Spencer.

READ MORE: Film Acquisition Rundown: Grasshopper Film Gets ‘Escapes,’ Amazon and IFC Films Date ‘City of Ghosts’ and More

– Monument Releasing has acquired the North American distribution rights to the French musical “Footnotes.” The company will release the film theatrically in July. “Footnotes recently had its international debut at the 2017 Palm Springs International Film Festival as “Julie and the Shoe Factory.”


Monument Releasing

Inspired by the films of Jacques Demy and Stanley Donen, “Footnotes” is a whimsical and original musical comedy about Julie, a young woman struggling to make ends meet in France’s radically changing economy. Living out of a backpack, Julie spends her days jumping from job to job until she’s finally offered a temporary stockroom job at a women’s luxury shoe factory. “Footnotes” was written and directed by first-time feature filmmakers Paul Calori and Kostia Testut. They previously co-wrote and co-directed the musical short “Le Silence des Machines” (2007) for Arte, which they expanded into “Footnotes.”

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