BREAKING: The Weinstein Company finally confirmed what Deadline told you exclusively on February 27: that the studio acquired theatrical rights to Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed feature documentary on JD Salinger, the reclusive author of The Catcher In The Rye. TWC has set a September 6 theatrical release for the film. As Deadline reported, the deal is seven figures, around $2 million, and covers world rights except for the previous deal that licensed U.S. television rights to PBS’ American Masters. This was one of the most unusual deals in awhile, and came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film on the morning of the Academy Awards.
TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. Salerno and his lawyer Robert Offer made three big deals for the movie, showing it only to parties that made deals, which allowed the filmmaker to avoid any leakage of revelations in the film that might have resulted with a screening for multiple buyers. It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields. So the movie has played three times, and resulted in deals north of $5 million, making it one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary. It took Salerno eight years and $2 million of his own money to make the movie and the book happen. Here is the official release from TWC:
New York, NY – March 21, 2013 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) officially announced today their acquisition of worldwide distribution rights to the long-anticipated feature length documentary SALINGER. The film, a biography of notoriously reclusive author J.D. Salinger, is directed by Shane Salerno, who most recently co-wrote and executive produced Oliver Stone’s SAVAGES. Salerno also produced the documentary along with Buddy Squires and Deborah Randall. TWC executives closed the deal on the film immediately after they screened it the morning before the Academy Awards. The company plans to show SALINGER in a number of film festivals prior to its theatrical release September 6th limited followed by an extensive rollout plan.
SALINGER features interviews with 150 subjects including Salinger’s friends, colleagues and members of his inner circle who have never spoken on the record before as well as film footage, photographs and other material that has never been seen. Additionally, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, Gore Vidal and Pulitzer Prize winners A. Scott Berg and Elizabeth Frank talk about Salinger’s influence on their lives, their work and the broader culture. The film is the first work to get beyond the Catcher in the Rye author’s meticulously built up wall: his childhood, painstaking work methods, marriages, private world and the secrets he left behind after his death in 2010.
Commenting on the deal, Salerno said: “I have the greatest respect for The Weinstein Company and the remarkable quality and consistency of the films they produce. I am honored to be working with them on what is for me an eight year labor of love.”
“Shane Salerno has created a haunting piece of documentary filmmaking in SALINGER,” said TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein. “We are in awe of the painstaking detail used in depicting a man who created truly timeless works of literature, but otherwise remained an enigma for so many years.”
Salerno has also co-authored an oral biography on Salinger with New York Times bestselling author David Shields (Reality Hunger), titled The Private War of J.D. Salinger, which will be published by Simon & Schuster later this year.
The deal was negotiated in Los Angeles by COO David Glasser, Michal Steinberg, Mark Gooder and Jennifer Malloy for The Weinstein Company with Robert Offer and Shelby Weiser on behalf of the filmmakers. PBS holds U.S. television rights for their American Masters series.