EXCLUSIVE: Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios has closed a huge North American rights deal for Chappaquiddick, the John Curran-directed drama about the night Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge, ending the life of Mary Jo Kopechne and his chance at the White House. Allen has been all over this film: sources said he made a blind offer in the weeks approaching the festival, and the deal comes after Allen and his team screened the film. Entertainment Studios is paying $4 million to acquire it, and is committing $16 million-plus for P&A to give the picture a major launch in the upcoming awards season. WME Global brokered the deal.
This comes after Allen paid $4 million this morning for North American rights to the Jeffrey Nachmanoff-directed thriller Replicas, which stars Keanu Reeves. Chappaquiddick has its gala premiere Sunday at 3 PM at Roy Thomson Hall.
Jason Clarke plays Kennedy, Kate Mara plays Kopechne, Bruce Dern plays the senator’s domineering father Joseph Kennedy, Ed Helms plays Joe Gargan, Jim Gaffigan plays DA Paul Markham, and Olivia Thirlby plays one of the “boiler room girls,” a group of single women who worked Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 Presidential campaign, which ended with his assassination.
Apex Entertainment’s Mark Ciardi and Campbell McInnes produced and financed with DMG’s Dan Mintz and Chris Fenton as executive producers. Chris Cowles is also producing. Script by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan made the 2015 Black List. They are also exec producers.
The film chronicles the tragedy and its aftermath that started with a return from the party that the young and allegedly drunk Kennedy and Kopechne attended, to the nine hours that passed from when Kopechne drowned to when Kennedy reported the crash to the police.
The elder Kennedy’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering that night was key as his son (always trying to please his father) called him after the crash. Although he became a prisoner in his own body after a debilitating stroke, Joe Kennedy still ruled with an iron fist and at first thought it best to come up with a story to save his son’s Presidential ambitions.
He quickly called in trusted Kennedy advisors including Robert MacNamara, Teddy Sorenson, and Sargent Shriver and created a war room in the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port to help control the story in the press and to run damage control after he realized the family couldn’t hide the incident. Joe Kennedy would die four months to the day after the July 18, 1969 death of Kopechne.
Apex Entertainment’s previous company credits include Fallen and Live Like Line. DMG Entertainment, known such tentpoles such as Iron Man 3, has been steadily proving itself as filmmaker friendly company; DMG CEO Mintz is a director (American Crime) and founder of what is looking more and more like a mini-major run by filmmakers.
Sierra/Affinity is repping international territories.