EXCLUSIVE: Roadside Attractions and Vertical Entertainment have prevailed in a bidding war surrounding the Sundance thriller Emily the Criminal, starring and produced by Aubrey Plaza (Black Bear, Ingrid Goes West), claiming North American rights. They’ve slated the film for an exclusive theatrical release this year, with Redbox joining the partnership for home entertainment distribution.
John Patton Ford’s feature directorial debut follows Emily (Plaza), who is saddled with student debt and locked out of the job market due to a minor criminal record. Desperate for income, she takes a shady gig as a “dummy shopper,” buying goods with stolen credit cards supplied by a handsome and charismatic middleman named Youcef (Theo Rossi). Faced with a series of dead-end job interviews, Emily soon finds herself seduced by the quick cash and illicit thrills of black-market capitalism, and increasingly interested in her mentor Youcef. Together, they hatch a plan to bring their business to the next level in Los Angeles.
Ford penned the original screenplay, with Megalyn Echikunwoke (Late Night, Damsels in Distress) and Gina Gershon (Blockers, Bound) rounding out the cast. The film was financed by Tyler Davidson’s Low Spark Films (The Kings of Summer, Take Shelter) in association with Fear Knot Productions. Plaza produced through her Evil Hag Productions banner, alongside Davidson and Drew Sykes (Galveston, The Land) for Low Spark. Kevin Flanigan, Dexter Braff, Angus Wall, Kent Kubena, Lowell Shapiro and Mike Dill served as the pic’s exec producers.
The creative team behind Emily the Criminal also included casting directors Chelsea Ellis Bloch and Marisol Roncalli, composer Nathan Halpern, cinematographer Jeff Bierman, costume designer Amanda Wing Yee Lee, production designer Liz Toonkel and editor Harrison Atkins.
“John Patton Ford’s propulsive thriller Emily The Criminal is a spectacular directing debut with a revelatory performance from Aubrey Plaza as a wildly entertaining antiheroine that recalls Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde,” said Roadside Attractions’ Co-Presidents Howard Cohen & Eric d’Arbeloff.
“When we saw the film, we knew we had to have it. It is an exceptional story that is sure to excite and thrill audiences,” said Vertical Entertainment’s Partner & CEO Peter Jarowey. “We are excited to bring two long-standing collaborators in Roadside and Redbox together on one film that we care so deeply about. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
“We continue to believe in the importance of the theatrical experience and the power of watching movies together on a big screen,” added the filmmakers in a joint statement, “and couldn’t be more excited and confident in our stellar partners at Roadside and Vertical to connect our film with audiences everywhere.”
Since its founding in 2003, Roadside Attractions’ films have grossed over $500 million and garnered 23 Academy Award nominations. The company has recently released films including The Courier, Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It and The Alpinist. Its upcoming titles include Aline, a fiction inspired by the life of Celine Dion, Terence Davies’ Benediction and John Michael McDonagh’s thriller The Forgiven, starring Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes, which it co-acquired with Vertical.
Vertical Entertainment is a global independent distributor, which was founded in 2012. Other upcoming releases from the company include Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr.’s Independent Spirit Award-nominated Wild Indian, starring Michael Greyeyes and Chaske Spencer; Krystin Ver Linden’s Alice, starring Keke Palmer, Common, Gaius Charles and Jonny Lee Miller, which premiered at Sundance 2022; Teppo Airaksinen’s comedy Supercool, starring Jake Short, Miles J. Harvey and Damon Wayans Jr.; Delmar Washington’s sci-fi thriller No Running, starring Skylan Brooks; AJ Jones’ horror film La Patasola; the comedy Unplugging, starring Eva Longoria and Matt Walsh; The Forgiven; and Drew Mylrea’s thriller Last Survivors, starring Alicia Silverstone, Stephen Moyer and Drew Van Acker.
Davidson founded Low Spark Films with partners Kevin Flanigan and Dexter Braff. The company specializing in indie production and financing has been behind such acclaimed titles as Take Shelter, The Kings of Summer, Galveston, Cryptozoo, The Signal, Compliance, The Land, My Blind Brother and The Beach House.
Jarowey negotiated the deal to acquire Emily the Criminal on behalf of Vertical Entertainment, with Angel An on behalf of Roadside Attractions, Marc Danon on behalf of Redbox Entertainment, and ICM Partners, CAA Media Finance and Verve Ventures on behalf of the filmmakers.