EXCLUSIVE: Magnolia Pictures is making a deal for The Queen Of Versailles, the documentary that made its Sundance Film Festival debut Thursday at Eccles Theater. I’m told the deal will be for all rights in North America except TV. Plans are for a theatrical release later this summer. Several companies chased the film including Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions together, and Sony Pictures Classics, which today bought Searching for Sugar Man.
The Queen Of Versailles focuses on the odyssey of timeshare magnate David Siegel and his 30-years younger wife Jackie. Riding high, they decided at the peak of their wealth to build Versailles, a 90,000-square-foot home that would have been the largest in America. Modeled after the Palace of Versailles, the plans included an indoor ice skating rink and 10 kitchens. When the 2008 economic collapse hit, their plans were dashed and they struggled to live like the unwashed masses. The docu caused a stir here when David Siegel sued Sundance for a catalog description of him as a rags-to-riches-to-rags story. He might be on shaky legal ground as those who’ve seen the movie said that those words come right out of his mouth. Lauren Greenfield (Thin) directed it, and while David Siegel wasn’t at yesterday’s screening Jackie was. Also present were several producers, and there could be a remake rights deal in the offing.
Pic is an Evergreen Pictures production, produced by Greenfield, Danielle Renfrew Behrens, Frank Evers and Dan Cogan. Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said the film “brilliantly encapsulates the salient issues of the American economic downturn, while also being one of the jaw-droppingly entertaining films I’ve seen in a very long time. Lauren Greenfield is an exceptionally talented filmmaker with a wonderfully humanistic touch, and she has found a truly magnetic, charismatic star in Jackie Siegel.”
Magnolia’s Dori Begly made the deal with Submarine’s Josh Braun and David Koh. TV rights are being shopped as we speak.