EXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight has acquired world rights for north of $4 million for Step, a documentary that drew bidders like few docus do. FSL not only bought the docu for distribution, but for remake rights as well. The Amanda Lipitz-directed film is about a step dance team in the charter school The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. That school opened in 2009 with a mandate to send every student to college, despite the barriers that their home lives and community might present. Now, as the first class enters its senior year, the stakes are high to achieve that purpose. The film follows three irrepressible seniors and their “Lethal Ladies” step dance team as they navigate a nerve-wracking college application process and the trials and tribulations of the tenacious young women, as well as their mothers, an unstoppable college counselor, and a no-nonsense step coach. Pic is a co-production between Stick Figure Productions, in association with Impact Partners, Vulcan Productions and Scott Rudin Productions. Steven Cantor and Lipitz produced. The pic’s exec producers are Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous, Jeny Raskin, Scott Rudin, Paul G. Allen, Carole Tomko, Michael Flaherty, Valerie McGowan, Barbara Dobkin, Regina K. Scully, Debra McLeod and Jay Sears, Ann & Andrew Tisch. WME Global brokered the deal.
FSL doesn’t do a lot of documentaries but will give this a major theatrical push and that is why they won the deal. It’s Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley’s second big Sundance deal of the day after they acquired Patti Cake$ for $10.5M. Part of the Step deal goes to create a scholarship fund for the girls in the movie, and the school. Lipitz is a Broadway producer so don’t be surprised if a stage version of this is in the cards. Of the scholarship fund, Lipitz said the filmmaker team “allowed for proceeds from the sale to go towards scholarships for each of the 19 girls on the step team that came to Sundance as well as a generous donation to the school so that it can continue to transform Baltimore one young woman at a time.”