Sundance 2012: Fox Searchlight Acquires BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD; Focus Features Picks Up FOR A GOOD TIME CALL…

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While the 2012 Sundance Film Festival is only a few days in, more than a few favorites are starting to emerge. Earlier today Sony Pictures Classics picked up the Rashida Jones comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever and Fox Searchlight acquired crowd-favorite The Surrogate (John Hawkes is apparently amazing in the latter). Now Fox Searchlight has made yet another high profile acquisition, as they’ve picked up U.S. rights to Benh Zeitlin’s fantastical drama Beasts of the Southern Wild. The film centers on a six-year-old on the brink of orphanhood who lives in a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world.

The pic has been picking up some serious buzz ever since its first screening. Matt called it a must-see and say it’s “a movie unlike anything you’ve seen in recent years.” You can read his full review here. Fox Searchlight plans to release the film this year. Hit the jump for acquisition news regarding the comedy For a Good Time Call… and to read the full press release regarding both films.

Additionally, Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to the comedy For a Good Time Call…The film, from first-time director Jamie Travis, centers on two roommates who decide to become phone-sex operators. Reviews have been mixed to positive, with many citing the film’s many phone-sex customer cameos as a highlight.

beasts-of-the-southern-wild-movie-image-03Here’s the full press release for Beasts of the Southern Wild:

PARK CITY, UT January 24, 2012 – Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley announced today that the company has acquired U. S. rights to the fantastical drama BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. Directed by Benh Zeitlin  and written by Lucy Alibar and Zeitlin, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD stars Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry.  The film was produced by Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey and Josh Penn.  Philipp Engelhorn, Paul Mezey and Michael Raisler are executive producers .  The film is scheduled to be released in 2012.

“In his feature film debut, Benh Zeitlin has crafted a visually stunning and deeply poetic film that captured our hearts.  The amazing performances by newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry are a wonder to behold,” said Utley and Gilula.

“The making of ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ was defined by a deliberate, collaborative process and we’re thrilled that Fox Searchlight Pictures has embraced the spirit of the film,” said Gottwald, Janvey and Penn.

“We were looking for a partner who would unleash our film on the world with the same energy and ferocity with which we made it.  Fox Searchlight came to the table with big hearts and fierce resolve, they’re a perfect match for the project,” said Zeitlin.

In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood.  Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality.  Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.

The deal was brokered by Fox Searchlight’s Vice President of Acquisitions Ray Strache, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Acquisitions Tony Safford and Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Megan O’Brien with WME Global’s Graham Taylor and Mark Anker and Andre Des Rochers of Gray Krauss Stratford Des Rochers LLP on behalf of the filmmakers.

Fox Searchlight Pictures is a specialty film company that both finances and acquires motion pictures.  It has its own marketing and distribution operations, and its films are distributed internationally by Twentieth Century Fox.  Fox Searchlight Pictures is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a unit of Fox Entertainment Group.

for-a-good-time-call-imageHere’s the press release for For a Good Time Call…:

NEW YORK, January 24th, 2012 – Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to AdScott Pictures’ contemporary comedy For a Good Time, Call…, the debut feature from director Jamie Travis. For a Good Time, Call…, written by Lauren Anne Miller & Katie Anne Naylon, world-premiered this week at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Focus CEO James Schamus and president Andrew Karpen made the announcement today.

Two young women, short on the funds needed to live in New York City, agree to room together. But they’re an at-odds couple; Lauren (played by Ms. Miller) is reserved, while Katie (Ari Graynor of The Sitter) is irrepressible. These roommates have nothing in common – until Lauren discovers that Katie is working as a phone-sex operator, and recognizes a good business opportunity. As the money begins to roll in, the two realize the value of not just their booming partnership but their growing friendship.

Ms. Miller and Ms. Naylon produced the movie with Josh Kesselman, Jenny Hinkey, and Jennifer Weinbaum. Ms. Graynor is also an executive producer of the movie along with Daniel M. Miller, who financed the film through his AdScott Pictures. The filmmakers were represented in the transaction by Cinetic Media and Sloss Eckhouse LawCo.

Mr. Schamus said, “The For a Good Time… team have crafted that rarest of combinations – a wildly funny comedy that’s also a genuine and heartfelt celebration of friendship and love. We’re so proud to join them in bringing to the world a film that not only lifted its cheering audiences at Sundance to their feet, but lifted our spirits, too.”

Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.focusfeatures.com) comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world.

In addition to For a Good Time, Call…, current and upcoming Focus releases include Tomas Alfredson’s thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, nominated for 3 Academy Awards including Best Actor (Gary Oldman); writer/director Dee Rees’ contemporary drama Pariah, nominated for 2 Spirit Awards; Being Flynn, written and directed by Paul Weitz and starring two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro and Paul Dano; Moonrise Kingdom, the new feature from Wes Anderson, starring Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman; Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley; Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s ParaNorman, the new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA; the historical tale Hyde Park on Hudson, directed by Roger Michell and starring Academy Award nominees Bill Murray and Laura Linney; and Joe Wright’s epic love story Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley, Aaron Johnson, and Jude Law.




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