Annapurna Pictures has purchased the film “Sorry to Bother You” following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The workplace satire sold in a competitive seven-figure deal, with the studio picking up worldwide rights.
“Sorry to Bother You” centers on an Oakland-based telemarketer named Cassius Green who discovers a magical key to professional success. It takes on such topics as racism and corporate greed — some buyers felt its satire was deft, while others griped that it juggled too many ideas.
The film stars Lakeith Stansfield (“Atlanta”, “Get Out”), Tessa Thompson (“Creed”), Armie Hammer (“Call Me by Your Name”), David Cross (“Arrested Development”), and Terry Crews (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”). It was written and directed by Boots Riley, who is better known as a musician. He provides vocals for The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club.
Annapurna, which specializes in auteur-driven fare such as “The Master” and “Detroit,” was pretty blunt about its love for the picture. “We f—ing love this movie,” the studio said in a statement.
The film was produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Charles D. King, George Rush, Jonathan Duffy, and Kelly Williams. It was co-financed by MNM Creative, MACRO, and Cinereach.
JuVee Productions – the integrated film, television and digital production company created by Viola Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, is embarking on an effort to raise $250,000,000 in a global expansion plan for the development, production and distribution of diverse and inclusive film and digital content.
The fund will be used to develop, finance, produce and distribute a slate of multiple feature films and branded digital content that will see the relatively young production company expand its footprint globally. “The shift in storytelling should be inclusive and we aim to make it a reality,” says Julius Tennon in a press statement.
Launched in 2012 by Davis and Tennon, JuVee Productions is a Los Angeles-based artist driven production company that develops and produces independent film, television, theater, and digital content across all platforms. JuVee Productions aims to become the go-to creative hub where the next generation of filmmakers and artists have the space to craft dynamic stories spanning the broad spectrum of humanity.
The company’s most recent project is the courtroom drama “Custody” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and aired on the Lifetime network last week. The short film “Night Shift” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of this year and continues to tour the film festival circuit.
Upcoming the production company has the film adaptation of “The Personal History of Rachel DuPree” which Davis is starring in; a biopic on Barbara Jordan (the first Southern African American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives), also with Davis starring; and a TV period series set up at ABC titled “The Zipcoders,” set in 1968, about a group of black teenagers form a rock ‘n’ roll band who aspire to be like The Beatles; and there’s also Davis’ Harriet Tubman film with HBO.
The Birth of a Nation was the talk of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and now the nonprofit behind the annual Park City event is celebrating the pic’s director-star. The Sundance Institute said today that Nate Parker will receive its Vanguard Award.
Parker, who also wrote the screenplay, will be honored August 11 at Night Before Next, a summer celebration benefiting the Institute and its artists on the eve of Sundance Next Fest at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
“We are excited to honor Nate Parker as he prepares to release the extraordinary film TheBirth of a Nation, which we supported during development and premiered at our Festival,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute.
The Birth of a Nation, which Fox Searchlight acquired for a festival-record $17.5M at Sundance, centers on Nat Turner (Parker), a literate, enslaved man and preacher whose financially strapped owner (Armie Hammer) accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities — against himself and his fellow slaves — Turner orchestrates an uprising in the hope of leading his people to freedom. The film also stars Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Aunjanue Ellis, Mark Boone Junior and Aja Naomi King.
Ever since actor/director Nate Parker‘s “Birth of a Nation” caused a sensation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival by landing the biggest distribution deal made thre ever, we have been waiting to hear and see more. Today is the day, as Fox Searchlight has released the film’s first teaser trailer. This drama about Nat Turner and the revolt he lead in 1831 is set to be released in theaters this October. Check it out:
“The Birth of a Nation” filmmaker Nate Parker will write the movie adaptation of the inspirational wrestling story “Carry On.” Walden Media will develop, finance and produce “Carry On,” based on Lisa Fenn’s memoir that’s due to be published by HarperCollins in August.
Fenn is an ESPN producer who went back to her hometown of Cleveland in 2009 to pursue a story about two disabled wrestlers who attended an impoverished public high school. Dartanyon Crockett, legally blind yet the best wrestler on the team, would carry Leroy Sutton, who had lost both his legs in a train accident when he was 11, to practices and meets.
Fenn formed a connection with the two young men and dedicated the next six years of her life to ensuring their success. Sutton graduated from college and Crockett won a bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Ryan Coogler, director and co-writer of “Creed,” has been named as the first Warner Bros. Creative Talent Ambassador in the U.K. The news comes as the studio’s Creative Talent program welcomed participants of its third season.
Coogler was supported early in his career by the Time Warner Foundation in partnership with Sundance Institute, which enabled him to develop his first feature film, “Fruitvale Station.” The film went on to win the Grand Jury Prize and the audience award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Coogler said: “Having experienced firsthand the support and impact of programs similar to Warner Bros. Creative Talent, it is fantastic to know that passionate young people of all backgrounds are being given the chance to follow their dreams here in the U.K. This can be a tough industry, and so we need to do what we can to bring talented young people into it.”
Josh Berger, president and managing director, Warner Bros. U.K., Ireland and Spain, said: “I am thrilled that Ryan has become an ambassador for Warner Bros. Creative Talent, as he is the perfect example of the effect that a program like this can have on one’s life and career. We’re already seeing our talented young people taking strides into the industry, just a couple of years into the program, and I can’t wait to see what season three will go on to achieve.”
Warner Bros. Creative Talent participants will receive funding and training opportunities as part of a multilayered program that includes scholarships at some of the country’s top higher-education institutions. These include three Prince William scholars in film, television and games in partnership with BAFTA; apprenticeships at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden and Warner Bros. Television Production U.K.; trainee positions on every Warner Bros. film production in the U.K.; training-course places for young people at inclusive theater company Chickenshed; work-experience places for students at a school local to Warner Bros.’ London HQ; and work placements on the London West End musical “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
UPDATE, 7:45 PM: It’s a double win for The Birth Of A Nation tonight at the Sundance Film Festival Awards. First the Nate Parker-directed, written and starring film won the U.S Dramatic Audience Award and now it has scored the prestigious U.S. Dramatic Jury Award.
“Sundance is like a great summer camp experience,” said a clearly humbled Parker onstage. “This has been like the greatest moment of my career,” he added. “It just means so much.” This is the fourth year in a row that the same film has won both the U.S. Audience and Jury awards. Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale, which was renamed Fruitvale Station upon wide release won both awards in 2013, Whiplash won in 2014 and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl won last year.
PREVIOUS, 7:10 PM: After an emotional and acclaimed debut screening on January 25 and a record breaking $17.5 million pick-up by Fox Searchlight the very next morning, The Birth of a Nation sealed its Sundance Film Festival tonight with yet another big win. The Nate Parker directed and starring passion project about Nat Turner’s 19th century slave uprising took the Audience Award for U.S Dramatic Saturday night in Park City.
Thank you Lord, Thank you Sundance,” said Parker taking the stage with the film’s producers Jason Michael Berman, Aaron Gilbert, Brenda Gilbert and EP Ryan Ahrens. “I’ve seen first hand that people are open to the idea of change and the fact that this is happening means everything to me, “ Parker added of the issues raised in the film and the reaction it’s received. “Thank you to everyone who voted for the film, he also said to big applause. “I share this with you.” The film is also in the running for the U.S. Dramatic Jury Award at Sundance this year.
Made for under $10 million by the Red Tails actor with the likes of San Antonio Spurs’ star Tony Parker coming in as an EP, the visceral Nation depicts the horror of the system of slavery and the 48-hour revolt Turner instigated in 1831 in Virginia. And Yes, in this time of the diversity and #OscarsSoWhite discussion that Hollywood is engaged in unfortunately again, if you feel you recognize the name, it’s because Parker re-appropriated the title of the infamous 1915 film by D.W. Griffith that helped reinvigorate the KKK in America.
With Parker as Turner and Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Aja Naomi King and Chike Okonkwo co-starring, the film saw multiple standing ovations and tears streaming down the faces of patrons at its packed Eccles Theatre premiere. Within minutes, potential buyers were working the phones in the lobby and an all night bidding war between Netflix, Sony Pictures, the Weinstein Company, Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios and others broke out.
In the end, it was Fox Searchlight that Parker, his producers and WME went with. “Ultimately with Searchlight I felt a connection and a humanity on just a human level, not to say that it wasn’t there with the others, but there was a relationship and a synergy with respect to what impact we wanted it have on the world – a global approach,” Parker told me on the morning of January 26 just hours after the deal was done.
A global approach for a pic that now has its first but likely not last award in hand.
article by Dominic Patten and Patrick Hipes via deadline.com
It’s not every couple who has a feature film made about their first date. Then again, not every couple is the Obamas.
Southside with You, directed by Richard Tanne and starring Tika Sumpter and newcomer Parker Sawyers, details the Obamas’ multilayered first date (despite Michelle’s insistence that it was, most certainly, not a date) as the couple traverses through Chicago, going to the Chicago Art Institute, the movie theater and finally, an ice cream parlor.
Though the flick doesn’t have a release date yet, it recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where critics gave it two very enthusiastic thumbs up, calling it a classic romance story. Check out some of the outstanding reviews below.
From Variety: “Despite its unassuming modesty of scale, budget and commercial potential, “Southside With You” stands as something unique, even audacious in American independent movies: a fact-based presidential “prequel” that seeks to present two iconic world figures as convincing and relatable romantic leads.”
From The Hollywood Reporter: “The result makes you realize how few realistic and three-dimensional date movies have been made in an era of throbbing hook-up encounters and R-rated horny teen gross-outs.”
From Mashable: “If you’d never heard the name Barack Obama, Southside With You could stand alone as a sweet, mature drama with layers of social and racial issues, family dynamics and, yes — romance.”
From MTV: “It’s hard to distance Barack and Michelle from their historical legacies, but Tanne’s nuanced approach succeeds at making this film about the tempestuous beginning, not the happily ever after.”
Fox Searchlight, the specialty films division of 21st Century Fox, is closing a $17.5 million deal to acquire worldwide rights to “The Birth of a Nation,” a drama about the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, that had an electrifying premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
The Weinstein Company, Netflix, Paramount, and Sony were among the companies making offers on the picture. Bidding lasted through the night, with one company, believed to be Netflix, offering $20 million for the picture. The deal is the richest in Sundance history.
The film was written and directed by Nate Parker, who also stars as Turner and invested his own money in the production. Parker is best known for his work in “The Great Debaters” and “Beyond the Lights.” The response to the picture was seismic and the Oscar buzz erupted as soon as the lights went up following the picture’s debut at the Eccles Theatre.
In a rave review, Variety critic Justin Chang wrote, “‘The Birth of a Nation’ exists to provoke a serious debate about the necessity and limitations of empathy, the morality of retaliatory violence, and the ongoing black struggle for justice and equality in this country. It earns that debate and then some.”
The cast includes Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley and Mark Boone Junior.
article by Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh via Variety.com
I had no idea Spike Lee was working on another Michael Jackson film. Or maybe I did, but I just don’t recall. I searched the S&A archives but didn’t immediately find anything, so it doesn’t appear we mentioned it. There was the Michael Jackson documentary Spike made in 2012, in collaboration with Jackson’s estate and Sony Music, titled “Bad 25.” But this one is an entirely new project, which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next month.
Titled “Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to ‘Off The Wall'”, the documentary’s synopsis reads: Catapulted by the success of his first major solo project, “Off The Wall,” Michael Jackson went from child star to King of Pop. This film explores the seminal album, with rare archival footage and interviews from those who were there and those whose lives its success and legacy impacted.
My research tells me that Spike first shared that he was working on this earlier this year, while doing press for his last film, “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” ahead of its USA release. Although he didn’t share any details – just that he was working on it, with potential plans to make similar documentaries on other seminal MJ albums, like “Thriller.”
No trailer or much media available yet for “Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to ‘Off the Wall'” except for the above still from Sundance.