The Google-owned company has struck a deal with the Manchester By The Sea and Winter’s Bone distributor to launch Maryam Keshavarz’s drama in theaters on October 26 ahead of its debut on its YouTube Premium service in 2019.
The move marks a slight shift in strategy for YouTube, which has previously focused on launching titles online. While, for instance, it booked short runs for the Barbara Kopple doc This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous that it picked up, it had previously dismissed full theatrical runs for acquisitions.
Written by Iranian-American filmmaker Keshavarz and Jonathan Mastro, Viper Club, which has its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, stars Sarandon alongside Matt Bomer (Normal Heart), Lola Kirke (Gone Girl), Adepero Oduye (The Big Short), Sheila Vand (Argo), Julian Morris (Hand of God) and Edie Falco (The Sopranos).
The film, which was previously known as Vulture Club, tells the story of Helen, played by Sarandon, a veteran ER nurse secretly struggling to free her grown son, a foreign war correspondent, from capture by a terrorist group. After running into roadblocks with government agencies, she discovers a clandestine community of journalists, philanthropists and advocates who might be able to help her.
Viper Club is Keshavarz’s second feature film following her debut Circumstance, which was released by Roadside Attractions and won the Audience Award at Sundance in 2011. The film is produced by Anna Gerb, Neal Dodson, and J.C. Chandor, the filmmaking team behind Margin Call and All is Lost. The deal was negotiated by Roadside’s Howard Cohen.
“Susan Sarandon immediately drew us into this emotional drama, and Maryam Keshavarz lends her unique perspective as an Iranian-American filmmaker,” said Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Original Content, YouTube. “The extremely talented cast delivered powerful performances and we are thrilled to debut this film at the Toronto International Film Festival and partner with Roadside to bring the film to theaters this fall.”
“Susan Sarandon’s emotional, tour de force performance anchors Viper Club. She brings incredible humanity to a woman who, after being slow-walked by the government, takes matters into her own hands in a clandestine effort to free her captive son. It’s a compelling, timely story brilliantly captured and told by Maryam, and we are excited to be partnering with YouTube to bring the film to theaters this fall,” said Roadside’s Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff.