Deadline revealed during the festival that Lionsgate was bearing down on a deal to release the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids, in partnership with Roadside Attractions in a deal made by Cinetic and Red Granite. Lionsgate has just issued the press release:
SANTA MONICA, CA (September 21, 2011) – LIONSGATE® (NYSE: LGF), a leading global entertainment company today announced the acquisition of Red Granite Pictures’ FRIENDS WITH KIDS, directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, following its debut screenings at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The announcement was made jointly by Steve Beeks, Lionsgate’s President and co-COO, Joe Drake, co-COO and Motion Picture Group President, and Jason Constantine, President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions.
The release will be handled jointly by Lionsgate and partner company Roadside Attractions, similarly to past collaborations such as EVERYTHING MUST GO, and the upcoming MARGIN CALL, with Roadside Attractions spearheading domestic theatrical distribution and Lionsgate handling all other U.S. rights including home entertainment and television.
Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland’s Red Granite Pictures produced the film with Jennifer Westfeldt and Jon Hamm’s Points West Pictures, producer Jake Kasdan, and Locomotive, led by Joshua Astrachan and Lucy Barzun Donnelly. Red Granite is also handling international sales.
The film is Westfeldt’s directorial debut, following the two critically acclaimed independent films that she previously wrote and starred in, KISSING JESSICA STEIN and IRA & ABBY. FRIENDS WITH KIDS boasts an ensemble cast of beloved actors with palpable chemistry, many of whom have appeared onscreen together in previous collaborations: Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox and Edward Burns. The film was widely considered one to watch heading into the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, and was warmly received by critics and audiences alike upon screening there.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to be working with the great teams at Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions on the release of FRIENDS WITH KIDS,” said Westfeldt. “Their passion for the project and the subject matter, along with their commitment to finding a broad audience for our film, make them the dream partners for us.”
Jason Constantine, Lionsgate’s President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions, mirrored Westfeldt’s sentiments: “We are long time admirers of Jennifer, and this is an excellent directorial debut. She’s made a high concept comedy that thoroughly entertains as it explores one of this generation’s central quandaries, and everyone on the Lionsgate and Roadside teams who saw the film related to it not just as executives, but as parents or partners. This movie has comedy, heart and truth in equal measures, and it will be a delight to bring to audiences.”
Red Granite’s Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland stated, “The teams at Lionsgate and Roadside really understand this film and we couldn’t be more excited to be in business with them. They are completely committed to the unique vision Jennifer Westfeldt has for FRIENDS WITH KIDS. We believed in Jennifer and this vision from the inception, and are very proud of the end product and happy to have worked alongside such a great team on our debut film.”
Constantine negotiated the deal on behalf of Lionsgate with Eda Kowan, SVP of Acquisitions and Co-Productions, and Wendy Jaffe, the Acquisitions and Co-Production team’s EVP of Business & Legal Affairs. Cinetic’s John Sloss and Jackie Eckhouse of Sloss Eckhouse LawCo negotiated the sale on behalf of the filmmakers. Jennifer Westfeldt is represented by Christian Donatelli and Courtney Kivowitz at The Schiff Company, Innovative and Lawrence Rose at Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown.