Tom Hanks Comedy ‘A Man Called Otto’ Pre-Sells To Sony For $60M In Biggest Ever EFM Deal

By Andreas Wiseman, Mike Fleming Jr

Tom Hanks Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

EXCLUSIVE: We told you two nights ago that buyers were circling. Now the eagle has landed. Tom Hanks comedy A Man Called Otto has sold to Sony in a record EFM worldwide rights deal pegged around $60 million.

Sony has taken global rights to the red-hot package from CAA Media Finance and is lining up a wide domestic theatrical release this Christmas, we understand.

Buyers have been clamoring for this one heading into the virtual EFM. There were multiple big offers on the table from studios, indies and a couple of streamers, but ultimately it came down to Sony vs. international buyers in a close run thing. In terms of EFM records, the deal moves past the $55M Netflix paid last year for Christian Bale thriller The Pale Blue Eye. A big reason Sony got the film is its continuing commitment to theatrical. A Man Called Otto will open year-end on around 2,000 screens.

The project is due to begin this month on location in Pittsburgh. STX International was aboard for international sales, and CAA Media Finance repped domestic alongside Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler Feldman & Clark.

Joining Oscar winner Hanks in the feel-good comedy adaptation of the Scandinavian hit A Man Called Ove are Mariana Treviño (Overboard), Rachel Keller (Legion) and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (6 Underground).

As we revealed earlier this month, Marc Forster will direct the SF Studios project, which is adapted from the Fredrik Backman novel and original Oscar-nominated 2017 Swedish movie written and directed by Hannes Holm. The titular character has been renamed to reflect the U.S. setting.

The film will follow Otto (Hanks), a grumpy, isolated widower with staunch principles, strict routines and a short fuse who gives everyone in his neighborhood a hard time as he watches over it like a hawk. Just as it seems like he’s finally given up on life, an unlikely and reluctant friendship develops with his new neighbors. Little by little, Otto undergoes a subtle transformation.

The new script comes from two-time Oscar nominee David Magee (Life of Pi) who also will executive produce. A Man Called Otto sees the pair reuniting for the first time following their successful collaboration on the acclaimed  Finding Neverland. Magee also earned an Oscar nom for that 2004 pic.

Fredrik Wikström Nicastro (A Man Called Ove) of SF Studios is producing the film with Rita Wilson (Mamma Mia!), and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. Marc Forster and Renée Wolfe will serve as executive producers via their production company 2DUX2 (World War Z). SF Studios is financing the project.

“What an amazing all-star constellation of talent: Tom Hanks in an iconic role and an exceptional director in Marc Forster; outstanding producers in Rita Wilson, Gary Goetzman and Fredrik Wikström Nicastro; exquisite screenplay from David Magee; a worldwide best-selling book; and our long-time partner, SF Studios,” Tom Rothman, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group, said in confirming the deal for Deadline. “Elizabeth Gabler, myself and Sony have had the privilege of working with all of these giants before, but this time we feel like we hit the lottery.”

Said Nicastro: “Tom and Elisabeth’s passion for the material and vision for how to create a worldwide theatrical event blew us all away. We couldn’t be more excited for Otto to find a home at our friends at Sony.”

Said Wilson: “We are thrilled to partner with Sony, who have consistently shown their commitment to film and filmmakers. In this era, which offers so many ways to be entertained, we applaud Sony’s commitment to theatrical exhibition.”

The deal was negotiated for Sony Pictures by Jon Freedberg, EVP Content Strategy & Business Development, and Joe Matukewicz, Head of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions’ Stage 6 Films. CAA Media Finance, Linda Lichter of Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler Feldman and Craig Emanuel of Paul Hastings negotiated on behalf of the filmmakers.

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