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Film Acquisition Rundown: Netflix Buys Drake Doremus’ ‘Newness,’ Gravitas Picks Up ‘Abundant Acreage Available’ 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.

Courtney Eaton Nicholas Hoult Newness


Scott Free Productions

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.

– Netflix has acquired the worldwide SVOD rights to Drake Doremus’ “Newness,” Deadline reports. The film stars Nicholas Hoult and Laia Costa as a couple in contemporary Los Angeles navigating the world of online dating and social media–driven hookup culture. The film was a last-minute addition to the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, and co-stars Matthew Gray Gubler, Courtney Eaton, Danny Huston and Courtney Eaton. Netflix acquired the rights in a reported seven-figure deal.

– Gravitas Ventures has acquired writer-director Angus MacLachlan’s second feature film, “Abundant Acreage Available.” The film premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the Best Screenplay Award in the U.S. Narrative Competition. The film focuses on siblings Tracy (Amy Ryan) and Jesse (Terry Kinney) in the immediate aftermath of their father’s death. Martin Scorsese served as an executive producer on the film.

– A24 and DirecTV have acquired the North American rights to writer-director Adam Rifkin’s “Dog Years,” starring Burt Reynolds, Chevy Chase, Ellar Coltrane, and Nikki Blonsky. The film premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Reynolds stars as an aging movie star who travels to a Nashville film festival to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dog Years Burt Reynolds

“Dog Years”


– IFC Films has acquitted the U.S. rights to Gurinder Chadha’s “Viceroy’s House.” The film stars Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal, Michael Gambon, and was written by Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges and Moria Buffini. Set in India in 1947, Lord Mountbatten (Bonneville) is dispatched, along with his wife Edwina (Anderson) to New Delhi to oversee the country’s transition from British rule to independence. Taking his place in the resplendent mansion known as the Viceroy’s House, Mountbatten arrives hopeful for a peaceful transference of power. But ending centuries of colonial rule in a country divided by deep religious and cultural differences proves no easy undertaking.

Viceroy's House

“Viceroy’s House”

IFC Films

“We are longtime fans of Gurinder Chadha’s and are thrilled to be working with her, along with her filmmaking team and amazing cast, on ‘Viceroy’s House,’ said Jonathan Sehring and Lisa Schwartz, co-Presidents of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, in a statement. “The film is a deeply personal story about an important moment in history which we believe will resonate with audiences across the U.S.”

– Kino Lorber has acquired most North American rights to Peter Nicks’ documentary “The Force,” which goes deep inside the embattled Oakland Police Department as it struggles to rebuild trust in one of America’s most violent cities at a powderkeg moment in American policing. Chronicling the department over the course of two years, the film follows a new chief who is brought in to effect reform at the very moment the Black Lives Matter movement emerges to demand police accountability and racial justice both in Oakland and across the nation.

“The Force” won the Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and had its New York theatrical premiere at BAMcinemaFest on Thursday, June 14. The film’s theatrical run starts September 15 in New York and the Bay Area, followed by Los Angeles on September 23. A national expansion will follow throughout the fall, before a VOD and home media release in 2018.

– FilmRise has acquired the North American distribution rights to Sophie Brooks’ debut feature film “The Boy Downstairs.” Aspiring writer Diana (Zoysia Mamet) returns to New York City after a few years living in London and finds what seems to be the perfect Brooklyn apartment to start fresh. However, on the first night in her new home she discovers that her ex-boyfriend Ben (Matthew Shear) lives in the apartment downstairs.

The Boy Downstairs Zosia Mamet

“The Boy Downstairs”

Jon Pack

“We are thrilled to share Sophie Brooks’ charming feature debut with the world,” said Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise. “The Boy Downstairs is a fresh, sincere comedy that we believe audiences everywhere will enjoy.” “The Boy Downstairs” was written and directed by Sophie Brooks. It was produced by Dan Clifton, David Brooks, and Leon Clarance; and executive produced by Paul Brooks. The film had its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and will be released theatrically later this year.

– Abramorama has acquired music-themed films “Sidemen: Long Road To Glory,” from director Scott Rosenbaum, and “Two Trains Runnin’” by Sam Pollard. Abramorama will release the films theatrically in August. Narrated by Marc Maron and featuring Gregg Allman, Joe Perry and Bonnie Raitt, “Sidemen: Long Road to Glory” is an intimate look at the lives and legacies of three legendary bluesmen; piano player Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, all Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sidemen.

“Two Trains Runnin’” explores the explosive events that unfolded in Mississippi in the summer of 1964, when Freedom Summer coincided with the captivating hunt for blues musicians Son House and Skip James. Narrated by Common, and featuring the music by Gary Clark Jr., the film focuses on hot-button issues of police brutality, racism, civil rights, and the legacy of black music—that are as urgent today as they were in 1964.

Sidemen: Long Road to Glory

“Sidemen: Long Road to Glory”


Strand Releasing has acquired the North American rights to Bavo Defurne’s “Souvenir,” starring Isabelle Huppert and Kevin Azaïs. The film finds a one-time European singing contestant, Liliane (Huppert) who won fame years ago only to disappear in a factory job and to be re-discovered by a co-worker Jean (Azaïs). The two collaborate as friends by going back on the road touring for a comeback, but things develop for both her career and their romance. This is the second feature film directed by Defurne. His previous feature “North Sea, Texas” and his short films have all been handled by Strand Releasing.

– Mubi has acquired James N. Kienitz Wilkins’ “The Republic,” which will premiere exclusively and globally on the streaming platform on July 4. Wilkins was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2016 and received the Kazuko Trust Award from the Film Society of Lincoln Center. His film “Indefinite Pitch” was an official selection of the 2016 New York, Toronto and Locarno Film Festivals.

“‘The Republic’ blurs the line between movies, theater, radio plays, podcasts and gallery installations,” Daniel Kasman, director of content at Mubi, said in a statement. “It is a unique cinematic experiment perfect for streaming, as the audience experience changes depending on how you watch and listen to it.”

– Vertical Entertainment has acquired the U.S. rights to Camille Thoman’s “Never Here,” starring Mireille Enos, Sam Shepard, Goran Visnjic, Vincent Piazza, Nina Arianda, Ana Nogueira, and Desmin Borges. The suspense thriller will have its world premiere screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 18th, with a day-and-date theatrical release scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2017, followed by an exclusive premium pay TV debut and run on the STARZ channels and services, including the new STARZ app, in early 2018.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Starz and the Never Here team to bring this incredibly visceral film to audiences,” Vertical co-president Rich Goldberg said in a statement. “Camille’s distinct vision threads an especially unique story that calls for active participation from every viewer.”

– Paladin has acquired the U.S. rights to “They Remain,” a genre-bending experience in terror written and directed by Philip Gelatt. Based on the 2010 short story, “-30-” by award-winning author Laird Barron, “They Remain” explores the evolving relationship between Keith and Jessica, two scientists who are employed by a vast, impersonal corporation to investigate an unspeakable horror that took place at the remote encampment of a mysterious cult.

“I can’t remember when I last encountered a film that so completely defies categorization and so consistently forges new territory,” Paladin president Mark Urman said in a statement. Barron’s novels, short fiction, and poems have earned him a substantial following among aficionados of fantasy, noir, horror, and sci-fi, and have twice won him the Shirley Jackson Award. Paladin and Reno Productions are prepping “They Remain” for a film festival launch and theatrical release commencing in the Fall.

– The California Film Institute (CFI), the non-profit arts organization that produces the annual Mill Valley Film Festival has acquired the Little Film Company’s “The Fencer.” Finland’s official submission to the 88th Academy Awards for “Best Foreign Language Film,” Klaus Härö’s The Fencer follows a haunted young man arrival in an Estonian town that has been under harsh Russian Communist rule since the end of World War II. Taking a job as a sports instructor at the local school, he organizes a wildly successful fencing club, affecting the lives of the local children in profound and moving ways. At the climactic competition with Russian opponents, his past finally catches up with him.

“Upon reading Klaus Härö’s director’s note, I was reminded vividly of how I felt at the conclusion of ‘The Fencer’ and how profound an effect one adult can have on children,” Mark Fishkin, founder and executive director of CFI, said in a statement. “It’s a powerful theme that elevates this cinematically poignant story.” “The Fencer” is scheduled to open in New York on Friday, July 21, 2017.

– Fun Academy will handle North American distribution of director and executive producer Richard Lanni’s animated feature “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” currently in production. The film tells the incredible true story of Stubby, a stray dog who became a hero of the First World War. After his rescue off the streets by a young American Soldier, the little mutt is given a chance to perform acts of valor beyond his stature. Sgt. Stubby is still recognized today as the first dog promoted through combat and the most decorated canine in American history.

Fun Academy has enlisted the voice talents of Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gérard Depardieu. The film will also feature an original score from award-winning composer Patrick Doyle. “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” is slated to open nationwide on April 13, 2018.

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