UPDATE: The Weinstein Company has confirmed Deadline’s break on this deal. Release appears below original story.
EXCLUSIVE: Harvey Weinstein is salting his Oscar arsenal for next year. After a heated auction with numerous bidders, The Weinstein Company is in exclusive negotiations to acquire Fruitvale for a bit north of $2 million, and a commitment for a big theatrical release. Deal covers English-speaking territories, I hear. The Ryan Coogler-directed drama is about the last day in the life of 22-year-old Oscar Grant before he was killed in a case that galvanized protests against police brutality in Oakland. It is the first big theatrical deal for Weinstein at the festival. The bidding on this one has been going hot and heavy since last night with multiple distributors. Weinstein got into exclusive deal talks after late-hour negotiating that also included Fox Searchlight, Paramount Pictures, Focus Features and CBS Films.
Since its Saturday opening, Fruitvale has resonated with buyers, with potential to be a festival picture that come out of nowhere — like Precious and Beasts Of The Southern Wild — to capture audience and critical acclaim. It’s galvanized by the performance of Michael B Jordan, memorable in The Wire, Friday Night Lights and Chronicle. He plays Oscar, a young man who has been in trouble with the law but is decent at heart and tries to straighten out his life to care for his girlfriend and young daughter. The film unfolds on the final day of 2008 and also stars The Help‘s Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand and Chad Michael Murray. The film is Coogler’s feature directorial debut, and Forest Whitaker is among the producers. The auction is being handled by WME Global’s Mark Ankner and Liesl Copland.
PARK CITY, UT (January 21, 2013) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today they have acquired the distribution rights for the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and South Africa; and worldwide international sales rights for Ryan Coogler’s breakout hit FRUITVALE from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The film premiered to wide critical acclaim and overwhelmingly positive audience reactions on Saturday night. FRUITVALE, a feature directorial debut, was written and directed by Ryan Coogler, and was produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi and Forest Whitaker.
FRUITVALE follows the true life story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, played by Michael B. Jordan (CHRONICLE). This tragic tale recounts the last moments of Oscar’s life, as he makes plans to be a better partner to his girlfriend and a better father to his four year old daughter. He realizes that change is not going to come easy, as he crosses paths with friends, family, and strangers, each exchange showing us that there is much more to Oscar than meets the eye. But it would be his final encounter of the day, with police officers at the Fruitvale BART station that would shake the Bay Area to its very core, and cause the entire nation to be witnesses to the story of Oscar Grant.
Accompanying Michael B. Jordan in this incredible cast is Oscar® winner Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray and SAhna O’Reilly.
“I was completely amazed by this incredible film. This earth-shattering story is one that needs to be told, and we are honored to be able to share Oscar’s story with audiences everywhere,” said TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein, “I was totally blown away by the cast, and we couldn’t be more excited to be working with such a great group of filmmakers.”
Producer Nina Yang Bongiovi said, “We are so thrilled to be partnering with The Weinstein Company and their amazing team. We can’t wait for the world to see this very important story and the most moving performances by our talent.”
The deal was negotiated by TWC COO David Glasser, Dan Guando, SVP of Acquisitions, Michal Podell Steinberg, EVP of Business and Legal Affairs and Acquisitions, and Jennifer Malloy, Director of Acquisitions and Co-Productions; with WME Global’s Graham Taylor and Mark Ankner.