Topic Studios has signed a first look film and television deal with filmmakers Joe Penna and Ryan Morrison, whose feature Arctic made its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last May as an official selection in the Midnight section. The deal expands the relationship between Topic, Penna and Morrison who recently collaborated on a scripted anthology series which will be announced soon.
“We have loved working with Joe and Ryan,” said Lisa Leingang and Ryan Heller for Topic Studios. “They are a rare combination of world-builders, DIY filmmakers and first class storytellers. There’s so much we want to do together.”
Said Penna and Morrison: “We’re beyond excited to be working so closely with Topic. They truly support their creative partners and tell the type of stories people need to hear. Topic is a studio with something to say and we’re very much looking forward joining the conversation.”
Arctic, which Penna directed and wrote with Morrison, was picked-up by Bleecker Street. The film will open on Feb. 1 in North America. Bleecker also acquired certain overseas territories. Both Penna and Morrison served as EPs on Arctic with the latter also editing. The pic follows a man (Mads Mikkelsen) stranded in the Arctic, who is finally about to receive his long-awaited rescue. However, after a tragic accident, his opportunity is lost and he must then decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his camp or embark on a deadly trek through the unknown for potential salvation.
Penna and Morrison are currently in pre-production on their second feature Stowaway, a sci-fi thriller starring Anna Kendrick and Toni Collette.
The duo were previously chosen among the Top 50 writers for the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. Penna and Morrison are represented by CAA, Management 360 and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren & Richman.
Current feature projects at Topic Studios include Debra Granik’s award-winning Leave No Trace which premiered at Sundance last January. There’s also the political documentary Dark Money, from director Kimberly Reed, shortlisted for the Academy Awards’ Best Documentary Feature, and Steven Soderbergh’s Panama Papers drama from Netflix, The Laundromat, which stars Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas and was developed at Topic alongside Grey Matter Productions. Upcoming projects include comedic drama The Climb from filmmaking team Michael Covino and Kyle Marvin; On the Other Side, the story of war correspondent Kate Webb starring Carey Mulligan; and Rodrigo Prieto’s directorial debut Bastard, with executive producers Martin Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff.
Television projects in development from Topic include: the dramatic series Atomic Bazaar about the underground world of nuclear trafficking with Pulse Films and written by Greg Burke (71, 7 Days in Entebbe); Hunger, a contemporary global thriller written about the dangerous business of the global food industry written by Alex Garcia Lopez (Utopia, Walking Dead); Gold Fame Citrus, a dystopian thriller set amidst a massive drought that has turned residents of the Southwest US into refugees written by Jack Paglen (Alien: Covenant); and The Apothecary, based on the bestselling YA trilogy by Maile Meloy, written by Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett (Big Mouth, Wimbledon).
The studio is also behind the documentary XY Chelsea, about the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, with Pulse Films, FOV & BFI, which was acquired by Showtime.