UPDATE, 3:16 PM: Magnolia Pictures has confirmed news that Deadline broke yesterday: It has acquired North American rights to Frank, starring Michael Fassbender. Read the full release below the original story.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, THURSDAY AM: Magnolia is zeroing in on a low seven-figure domestic deal for Frank, the Lenny Abrahamson-directed film about a band that is led by an eclectic genius lead singer who, everywhere he goes, wears an oversized head, even on stage. Now, this has been one of the most intriguing titles, given that the actor playing him is Michael Fassbender, the hunky Irishman who was just Oscar-nominated for his role in 12 Years A Slave.
The film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy and Domhnall Gleeson and the vantage point is a fledgling musician who joins the band. The film is repped by WME Global, and while the deal flow has been a bit on the slow side, that agency has managed to close a deal through all of the six days of the fest. I wrote about how Graham Taylor’s Sundance team of Mark Ankner, Liesl Copland and Alexis Garcia got minted as partners, and maybe that was the extra motivation, but they bagged the fest’s first big deal on the opening night film Whiplash, and haven’t let up. Frank first premiered last Friday night at the Eccles Theater.
Park City, UT (January 24, 2014) – The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures announced today that they have acquired North American rights to FRANK, an offbeat comedy that just had its world premiere to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did, Garage, Adam & Paul), the film was written by Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats) and Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). FRANK stars Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gylenhaal, Scoot McNairy and Michael Fassbender as the titular character, a brilliant and eccentric musician who wears a giant fake head at all times.
FRANK was produced by Ed Guiney, David Barron and Stevie Lee, and executive producers are Tessa Ross, Katherine Butler, Andrew Lowe and Nigel Williams. FRANK is an Element Pictures/Runaway Fridge production for Film4, BFI, Protagonist Pictures and the Irish Film Board.
Gleeson plays Jon, a wannabe musician who finds himself out of his depth when he joins a maverick pop band led by the enigmatic Frank (Fassbender)—a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head—and his terrifying sidekick Clara (Gyllenhaal). It is a fictional story loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, the persona of cult musician and comedy legend Chris Sievey, as well as other outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.
“All of us at Magnolia were completely taken with FRANK,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “It reaffirms the considerable talents of Lenny Abrahamson, who has delivered a beautiful, poignant and hilarious film that speaks on many levels about being an artist. That Michael Fassbender can be so affecting while encased in a papier-mâché head proves that he is one of the greatest actors working today.”
Speaking from Park City Lenny Abrahamson said: “I’m delighted that FRANK has found a home in the US with Magnolia. Eamonn Bowles was an early fan of my first film, Adam & Paul, and I know that the team there has a genuine passion for FRANK. Along with their skill and experience this makes them the right partners to bring the film to its audience here.”
Producer Ed Guiney said “Magnolia is an incredibly innovative and exciting company and we have long wanted to work with them. They are the perfect partners for FRANK and we could not be happier that we have landed with them and we are very excited about their plans for the US.”
The deal was negotiated for Magnolia by SVP of Acquisitions Dori Begley and Director of Acquisitions John Von Thaden, with WME and Protagonist Pictures on behalf of the filmmakers. Protagonist is handling worldwide sales.
Magnolia is eyeing a summer 2014 theatrical release for the film.