Sundance 2012: Magnolia Picks Up NOBODY WALKS; Participant and AFFRM Acquire MIDDLE OF NOWHERE; The Weinstein Co. Buys LAY THE FAVORITE

     January 29, 2012


Sundance is over, which means it’s time to start looking forward to the eventual theatrical releases of the lucky selections.  Three more movies landed a distribution deal over the weekend:

  • Magnolia picked up Nobody Walks, the ensemble drama led by John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, Justin Kirk, India Ennenga, and Dylan McDermott.
  • Participant Media and AFFRM jointly acquired Middle of Nowhere, an “emotional drama chronicling a woman’s (Emayatzy E. Corinealdi) separation from her incarcerated husband (Omari Hardwick) and her journey to maintain her marriage and her identity.”
  • The Weinstein Co. bought Lay the Favorite, a comedy set in the world of high-stakes gambling starring Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson, Laura Prepon, Rebecca Hall and Vince Vaughn.

Look to the press releases after the break for details on each acquisition.

Nobody Walks


Magnolia Takes North American Rights to NOBODY WALKS

Park City, UT – January 28, 2012 – The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures announced today they have acquired North American rights to NOBODY WALKS, a lovely ensemble drama directed by Ry Russo-Young (You Wont Miss Me) and written by Russo-Young and Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture) that premiered here this week at the Sundance Film Festival. Starring John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, Justin Kirk, India Ennenga, and Dylan McDermott, NOBODY WALKS was produced by Super Crispy Entertainment’s Jonathan Schwartz and Andrea Sperling – winners of last year’s Sundance Grand Jury Award for LIKE CRAZY— along with Alicia Van Couvering; and executive produced by Audrey and Zygi Wilf.

Krasinski plays Peter, a Hollywood sound designer who’s agreed to help Martine (Thirlby) with her experimental art film as a favor to his wife (DeWitt). Martine, a beautiful and driven 23-year-old artist, comes to stay in the family’s pool house at their posh Silver Lake home, and her arrival ignites raw emotions and desires throughout the entire family.

Magnolia will release the film later this year in its Ultra VOD program with a robust theatrical release in all major markets.

“All of us at Magnolia fell in love with NOBODY WALKS,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “Ry Russo-Young has taken a big step forward with this exquisitely executed film laced with humor and humanity. The cast is excellent across the board and Olivia Thirlby’s incandescent performance showcases a star in the making.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Eamonn and Magnolia,” said Super Crispy Entertainment’s Jonathan Schwartz.  “There were many wonderful distributors interested, but in the end we felt they were the perfect fit, being so passionate about Ry’s amazing talent and the film’s theatrical life around the country.  We look forward to this partnership.”

The deal was negotiated for Magnolia by SVP of Acquisitions Dori Begley with Submarine’s Josh Braun and Lawrence Kopeikin of Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein & Kohner and Elsa Ramo on behalf of for the filmmakers.


Middle of Nowhere


Participant Media and AFFRM Acquire U.S. Theatrical Rights to 2012 Sundance Selection MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

Park City, UT – January 27, 2012 – Participant Media and AFFRM (African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement) have jointly acquired U.S. theatrical rights to MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, an elegant and emotional drama chronicling a woman’s separation from her incarcerated husband and her journey to maintain her marriage and her identity. Written and directed by AFFRM founder Ava DuVernay, the film was produced by DuVernay and Howard Barish with producer Paul Garnes.

Staring into the hollow end of her husband Derek’s eight-year prison sentence, Ruby Sexton fights to support him on the inside and survive her own identity crisis on the outside. Through a chance encounter and a stunning betrayal that shakes her to the core, Ruby is propelled in new and, often frightening, directions of self-discovery.

AFFRM will distribute the film theatrically later this year, activating marketing and promotional support through its broad grassroots collective powered by the nation’s top black film organizations. AFFRM’s inaugural feature through this innovative model was the critically-acclaimed drama, “I Will Follow,” released in March 2011. In December 2011, AFFRM distributed last year’s Sundance World Cinema Drama Audience Award winner, “Kinyarwanda.”

“As a filmmaker and film distributor, I embarked on the Sundance journey with a best case distribution scenario in mind, and this partnership with Participant is exactly that,” stated DuVernay. “For AFFRM and Participant to combine forces on this film is a bold, ground-breaking move for two companies dedicated to connecting and empowering audiences of every hue through cinema.”

Said Jonathan King, Participant Media’s Executive Vice President of Production, “Middle of Nowhere is only Ava DuVernay’s second feature, but it reflects the finesse and sensitivity of a far more experienced storyteller and the kind of quality filmmaking that’s been a hallmark of Participant.  We’re very excited to be joining forces with her and her team at AFFRM, and look forward to developing a marketing and Social Action campaign that illuminates the film’s themes and engages communities around the country.”

The deal was negotiated by Ben Weiss of the Paradigm Motion Picture Group with Nina Shaw and Gordon Bobb of Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano, on behalf of AFFRM, with Jeff Ivers of Participant.


Lay the Favorite

According to Risky Business, TWC landed Lay the Favorite for a little over $2 million with plans for a combination theatrical/VOD release.  Here is the Sundance synopsis:

Beth Raymer is a beautiful girl with a big heart who leaves her dancing job at a Florida strip club to become a Las Vegas cocktail waitress. Not exactly an ideal career choice, but her borderline-ditzy personality doesn’t give her many options. In walks Dink, a professional sports bettor who sees through her bubbly exterior and offers her a job placing wagers all over town to gain an advantage over the casinos. Her surprisingly impeccable mind for numbers soon cements her status as Dink’s good-luck charm, until his gorgeous-but-frigid wife, Tulip, starts to get jealous. Faced with no other choice but to fire Beth, Dink’s luck runs out when she heads to New York to work for a smarmy bookie, a turn of events that lands her squarely on the wrong side of the law.

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