Sundance 2014 Acquisitions: HAPPY CHRISTMAS, I ORIGINS, WISH I WAS HERE, LAGGIES, OBVIOUS CHILD, and WHIPLASH

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Catching up on a few Sundance sales:

  • Magnolia and Paramount will distribute Joe Swanberg‘s Happy Christmas starring Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham, and Swanberg
  • Fox Searchlight acquired Mike Cahill‘s I Origins starring Michael Pitt and Brit MarlingRead Adam’s review here.
  • Focus Features picked up Wish I Was Here, Zach Braff‘s follow-up to Garden State starring Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, and Ashley GreeneRead Adam’s review here.
  • A24 acquired the domestic rights to Lynn Shelton‘s Laggies starring Keira Knightley, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Sam Rockwell as well as the Jenny Slate-led comedy Obvious Child.
  • Sony Pictures Classics made a deal for Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. Read Matt’s review here.

Click here for all our Sundance coverage and check out the press releases after the jump for all the acquisition details.

Happy Christmas

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Park City, UT (January 16, 2014) - The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures and Paramount Pictures announced today a collaboration to bring HAPPY CHRISTMAS to theatrical and home viewing audiences.   The new film, written and directed by Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies) and produced by Swanberg, Peter Gilbert and co-produced by Alicia Van Couvering, will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this Sunday. HAPPY CHRISTMAS stars Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham and Swanberg.

Magnolia Pictures is handling U.S. theatrical and VOD distribution, while Paramount Home Media Distribution will handle U.S. physical home entertainment and all international rights.

Anna Kendrick plays Jenny, an irresponsible 20-something who comes to Chicago to live with her older brother Jeff (Swanberg), a young filmmaker living a happy existence with his novelist wife Kelly (Lynskey) and their two-year-old son. Jenny’s arrival shakes up their quiet domesticity as she and her friend Carson (Dunham) instigate an evolution in Kelly’s life and career. Meanwhile, Jenny strikes up a rocky relationship with the family’s baby sitter-cum-pot dealer (Webber).

This is Kendrick’s second collaboration with Joe Swanberg following Drinking Buddies, also distributed by Magnolia. As in Drinking Buddies, Swanberg’s unique improvisational techniques in HAPPY CHRISTMAS create a dramatic experience full of naturalism, humor and warmth.

“I’m excited to continue my relationship with the innovative people at Magnolia and to start a new relationship with Paramount,” said Swanberg. “HAPPY CHRISTMAS is a personal and important film for me and I can’t imagine better partners to help connect it with audiences around the world.”

“We’re thrilled to be in business with Joe again on this lovely gem of a film,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “Joe’s skill with actors is formidable, and this terrific cast gives wonderful performances all around.”

“We are looking forward to bringing this original, fresh film to home viewing audiences in the U.S. and internationally,” said Syrinthia Studer, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Acquisitions, Paramount Home Media Distribution. “HAPPY CHRISTMAS has broad appeal, an exceptional cast and an engaging story that we believe will be well received both here and abroad.”

The deal was negotiated by Paramount Home Media Distribution, Magnolia SVP of Acquisitions
Dori Begley and Magnolia VP of Acquisitions Peter Van Steemburg, with Swanberg, Alicia Van Couvering and André Des Rochers of Gray Krauss Stratford Sandler Des Rochers LLP on behalf of the filmmakers.

Magnolia is eyeing a theatrical release in the summer of 2014.

 

I Origins

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PARK CITY, UT January 20, 2014 – Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley announced today that the company has acquired worldwide rights to the existential drama I ORIGINS. Directed and written by Mike Cahill, I ORIGINS is his second feature following ANOTHER EARTH which Fox Searchlight acquired at Sundance in 2011. The film stars Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Steven Yeun and Archie Panjabi with Cahill, Hunter Gray and Alex Orlovsky serving as producers. The film is scheduled to be released in 2014.

“Mike Cahill’s impressive second feature makes you question our very place in the universe by merging the scientific and emotional worlds in a deeply affecting way,” said Utley and Gilula. “The film boasts a superb cast led by Michael Pitt, and it is great to be reunited with Mike and Brit.”

“I am so excited to once again be home at Fox Searchlight, a place that I believe embraces creative passion and the future of cinematic storytelling,” said Cahill.

“I ORIGINS is a very special film for us at Verisimilitude. We know that Fox Searchlight is the perfect home for Mike’s innovative and utterly original work,” said Gray and Orlovsky.

Written and directed by Mike Cahill, and starring Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, I ORIGINS follows a molecular biologist whose study of the human eye points to evidence with far reaching implications about our scientific and spiritual beliefs.

The deal was brokered by Fox Searchlight’s Executive Vice President of Worldwide Acquisitions Tony Safford, Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Megan O’Brien and Vice President of Acquisitions & Co-Productions Ray Strache with WME Global and Andre des Rochers on behalf of the film and Shelley Surpin on behalf of the director. I ORIGINS is a Verisimilitude / WeWork Studios Production.

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 20th Century Fox Film.

 

Wish I Was Here

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PARK CITY, UTAH – January 19, 2014 – Focus Features announced today that it has acquired North American and select international distribution rights to the comedy WISH I WAS HERE, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

WISH I WAS HERE is Braff’s follow-up to his indie breakout hit GARDEN STATE. WISH I WAS HERE was directed by Zach Braff from a screenplay he wrote with his brother, Adam; and stars Zach Braff along with Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Ashley Greene, Joey King and Pierce Gagnon. WISH I WAS HERE tells the story of a thirty-something man who finds himself at a major crossroads, which forces him to examine his life, his career, and his family. WISH I WAS HERE was produced by Stacey Sher, Michael Shamberg, and Zach and Adam Braff. Christopher Woodrow, Molly Conners, Maria Cestone, Sarah E. Johnson and Hoyt David Morgan executive produced. In addition to North America, Focus has acquired the distribution rights to film in Poland and South Africa.

“We are thrilled to be in business with Zach Braff,” said Focus Features CEO Peter Schlessel. “GARDEN STATE was a huge benchmark in the world of independent film, and we are looking forward to continuing to support Zach and his unique voice. With WISH I WAS HERE, he has once again delivered a film that perfectly captures something essential about our lives, and presents it with the laughter and emotion we all recognize.”

“I am very excited to be partnering with Focus Features as they are one of the biggest supporters of independent film in the business. This is the perfect collaboration for us as they recognize and appreciate how unique our journey has been to get this film made,” says Braff. “Their enthusiasm to embrace our Kickstarter backers, while we fulfill our promises and rewards, made them a natural fit. My 46,520 backers are amazingly supportive and without them this film would not be a reality“

Braff made headlines when he announced that WISH I WAS HERE would be funded by the crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a platform where backers support projects to help them come to life, in return for non-financial rewards and participation in community.

WISH I WAS HERE is the second feature film for Focus at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, following its production THE SIGNAL, which is world-premiering on Monday night, January 20th, @Midnight. Directed by Will Eubank, the latter thriller stars Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp, and Laurence Fishburne.

The distribution agreement for rights to WISH I WAS HERE as negotiated by Focus Features Executive Vice President, Business Affairs Beth Lemberger; and CAA on behalf of the filmmakers and producers.

 

Laggies

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Park City, UT (January 18, 2014) – A24 has just picked up domestic rights to Lynn Shelton’s LAGGIES starring Keira Knightley, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Sam Rockwell. The film, written by first time screenwriter Andrea Seigel, had its Sundance premiere on Friday. Film also co-stars Ellie Kemper, Mark Webber, Jeff Garlin, Gretchen Mol, and Kaitlyn Dever. A24 is planning a summer theatrical release for the film.

The film was produced by Anonymous Content and The Solution Entertainment Group, in association with Merced Media Partners, Palmstar Media Capital, and Penlife Media. Producers are Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Rosalie Swedlin, Steve Golin, Myles Nestel, Kevin Frakes, and Raj Singh.

Deal was brokered by UTA Independent Film Group and CAA. The Solution is handling international rights on the film.

LAGGIES is a coming of age story about a 28 year-old woman stuck in permanent adolescence. Unable to find her career calling, still hanging out with the same friends, and living with her high school boyfriend, Megan must finally navigate her own future when an unexpected marriage proposal sends her into a panic.

 

Obvious Child

Park City, UT (January 20, 2014) – A24 has just picked up North American rights to Gillian Robespierre’s groundbreaking debut comedy OBVIOUS CHILD featuring a star-making performance by Jenny Slate. Robespierre also wrote this wickedly funny and incredibly heartfelt comedy. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday and has been building incredible buzz ever since. A24 plans a theatrical release in 2014.

Film was produced by Elisabeth Holm and executive produced by rooks nest entertainment, sundial pictures, votiv films, slate, Robespierre, and David Kaplan.

A24 brokered the deal with WME Global. Slate is also repped by WME.

 

Whiplash

Deadline reported the Whiplash acquisition.  Here’s the Sundance synopsis:

Under the direction of a ruthless instructor, a talented young drummer begins to pursue perfection at any cost, even his humanity.

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