EXCLUSIVE: In one of the year’s biggest acquisition deals, Amazon Studios has made a $10 million-plus deal for U.S. rights to Life, Itself, a drama directed and written by This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman. The completed film is a multi-generational love story, weaving together a number of characters whose lives intersect over the course of decades from the streets of New York to the Spanish countryside and back. Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Olivia Cooke, Laia Costa, Mandy Patinkin, Sergio Peris-Mencheta and Alex Monner star. Pic’s produced by Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, FilmNation Entertainment’s Aaron Ryder, and Fogelman.
Amazon won the project over Paramount and Universal, and it was a big one for Amazon under Jason Ropell’s leadership. This project has been on the radar of distributors since the script topped the Black List before it began production, and again when FilmNation presented the package at Berlin at a time when This Is Us had established itself as the biggest breakout hit network series in years. But the auction — which came down to Paramount, Amazon Studios and Universal in the end — really commenced after distributors heard about a couple of “friends and family” screenings of the finished film. Studios — which had already read the script — began making sight-unseen proposals, and three finalists emerged and were then shown the finished film. The bidders made marketing presentations and how they would release the film in the Oscar corridor next year. This process had been going on for the past 10 days.
The film will likely be unveiled next fall in a prestige festival like Toronto or Telluride, and it will broaden from there. Fogelman, who wrote the animated films Cars, Tangled and Bolt and then moved into live action with scripts Stupid, Crazy, Love, The Guilt Trip and Last Vegas, made his directorial debut on a small film, the Al Pacino-starrer Danny Collins. Life Itself, one-third of which takes place in Spain with Spanish-language dialogue and subtitles, fuses the complex emotional resonance of This Is Us in a feature format that puts Fogelman in a position to mine turf of James L. Brooks. The film liberally uses the music of Bob Dylan, specifically from his album Time Out Of Mind.
This is the third major film that FilmNation fully financed, which became a huge sale, after Arrival and The Big Sick.
Endeavor Content brokered the U.S. deal with FilmNation, latter of which is the international sales agent. Fogelman is repped by WME, Management 360 and attorney Bruce Gellman of Hansen Jacobson.