Sundance: “Blindspotting” Goes to Lionsgate, The Orchard and Moviepass Pick Up “American Animals”

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Sundance Film

Two of the more high-profile Sundance premieres were screened early in the fest with the Daveed Diggs starrer Blindspotting being one of the Day One premieres and Bart Layton's American Animals screening shortly afterwards. The latter is the first acquisition by MoviePass Ventures.

Two more high-profile Sundance premieres have been picked up for distribution as Lionsgate finally stepped up to pick up the global rights to BLINDSPOTTING, Carlos López Estrada's directorial debut starring Daveed Diggs.

Also yesterday, The Orchard and MoviePass Ventures picked up the North American rights to Bart Layton's  art heist film American Animals for a reported $3 million with a significant P&A commitment.

The second of those deals might be the more interesting and significant one, because it's the first time that the subscription ticketing service MoviePass has teamed with a distributor to be more involved with the distribution of a film. MoviePass mentioned at the start of this year's Sundance that they would be partnering with a distribution company to do so, and the company had originally been eyeing Blindspotting as well as a possible acquisition. It's presumed that MoviePass will use the data from its 1.5 million subscribers to help market the movie to consumers.

American Animals stars Evan Peters (X-Men: Apocalypse) and Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) as two childhood friends from Kentucky who plot to steal rare books and prints from a university library, doing most of their planning based on heist films they've seen. The film was developed and co-financed by Film4 who backed Layton's directorial debut The Imposter.

Blindspotting co-stars Diggs, one of the breakout stars from the Broadway hit Hamilton, and Rafael Casal (who co-wrote the film with Diggs) as two Oakland friends trying to deal with the changing face of the city and the tensions between the African-American community and the police. You can read my thoughts on the film here.

Lionsgate plans on giving Blindspotting a wide release through its Codeblack Films and Summit Entertainment later this year, although there was no information about how much was paid for the controversial but topical film. There were a number of other distributors interested in Blindspotting, including CBS Films, Neon and The Orchard, but they were all outbid.

Blindspotting was produced by Snoot Entertainment's Keith and Jess Calder, who also financed the film with Diggs and Casal also acting as producers.

The American Animals deal was negotiated by The Orchard's VP of acquisitions Danielle DiGiacomo, MoviePass's VPs of business development Khalid Itum and Zac Bright. Vince Holden at AI Film and UTA represented the filmmakers. The international rights to Layton's film are still open with Sierra/Affinity handling international sales.
 
As first reported by Variety, the Lionsgate deal was negotiated by Jason Constantine, Lionsgate Executive VPs Eda Kowan and John Biondo, and SVP Elizabeth Hopkins.  Endeavor Content and Erik Hyman of Loeb and Loeb negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor

Tags: The Orchard | Lionsgate Entertainment | Blindspotting |