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Open Road Films announced today that it has acquired U.S. distribution to Jon Stewart's ROSEWATER, the feature film based on the New York Times best-selling memoir Then They Came for Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity and Survival, written by BBC journalist Maziar Bahari. The announcement was made today by Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films.
A true story, the film marks the screenwriting and directorial debut of The Daily Show host and anchor Jon Stewart, and stars Gael Garcia Bernal, leading an international cast. ROSEWATER is produced by Scott Rudin, Stewart, and Gigi Pritzker, with Lila Yacoub and Eli Bush serving as executive producers.
ROSEWATER was financed by OddLot Entertainment. Open Road Films plans to release the film in Fall 2014. Sierra/Affinity, which is overseeing international sales of the project, will be showing the film to select buyers during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
The deal was negotiated by UTA on behalf of the filmmakers and on behalf of Open Road Films by Ortenberg, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, Elliott Kleinberg, and Executive Vice President of Production & Acquisitions, Peter Lawson.
"This is an exciting, prestigious project and we could not be happier to partner with Jon Stewart, Scott Rudin, Gigi Pritzker and the rest of the OddLot team," said Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films. "We look forward to a successful release of this compelling film."
"We are incredibly proud of this film and we are looking forward to working with Tom Ortenberg and his team at Open Road Films on this wonderful project," Pritzker said.
ROSEWATER follows the Tehran-born Bahari, a 42-year-old broadcast journalist with Canadian citizenship living in London. In June 2009, Bahari returned to Iran to interview Mir-Hossein Moussavi, who was the prime challenger to controversial incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Moussavi's supporters rose up to protest Ahmadinejad's victory declaration hours before the polls closed on election day, Bahari endured great personal risk by submitting camera footage of the unfolding street riots to the BBC. Bahari was soon arrested by Revolutionary Guard police, led by a man identifying himself only as "Rosewater," who proceeded to torture and interrogate the journalist over the next 118 days.
In October 2009, with Bahari's wife leading an international campaign from London to have her husband freed, and Western media outlets including The Daily Show With Jon Stewart continuing to keep the story alive, Iranian authorities released Bahari on $300,000 bail and the promise he would act as a spy for the government.
ROSEWATER has a direct connection to Stewart, who since taking over as host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show in 1999, has turned the nightly half-hour satirical look at newsmakers and news-coverers into not only a perennial Emmy-winning juggernaut, but also an important touchstone on the zeitgeist. Stewart's reach with his show appeals to a broad age group including those 18-24 years of age, many of whom get their news updates solely from The Daily Show. Stewart and The Daily Show covered Bahari's saga nightly and had the journalist appear on the show to talk about his ordeal once he was released from prison.
About Open Road Films
Open Road Films is a dynamic, acquisition-based domestic theatrical distribution and marketing company which annually releases a diverse slate of star-driven motion pictures which has included multiple #1 releases. It was founded in 2011 by AMC Entertainment Inc. (AMC) and Regal Entertainment Group (Regal), the two largest theatrical exhibition companies in the United States. Open Road and its lenders recently extended the company's $100,000,000 credit facility through 2018.
Past releases include: The Nut Job, which opened to over $25 million at the box office as the highest ever opening for an independent animated film, The Grey starring Liam Neeson which opened #1 at the box office; End Of Watch starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña which opened #1 at the box office; A Haunted House starring Marlon Wayans; Side Effects directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum; The Host, based on Twilight saga author Stephenie Meyer's best-selling book; and Homefront, starring Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth.
Upcoming releases include: Chef (5/9/14) written by, directed by and starring Jon Favreau along with Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman /and Robert Downey, Jr.; The Fluffy Movie starring Gabriel 'Fluffy' Iglesias (7/11/14); and Eli Roth's The Green Inferno (9/5/14).
About OddLot Entertainment
OddLot Entertainment is a Los Angeles-based film and television production company that develops, produces, finances and arranges distribution for quality, commercial properties for both the domestic and international markets. OddLot is currently producing Mortdecai starring Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany and Olivia Munn which will be released by Lionsgate, and Jon Stewart's upcoming directorial debut Rosewater.
OddLot recently produced Ivan Reitman's Draft Day starring Kevin Costner which was released by Summit Entertainment; Ender's Game written and directed by Gavin Hood and starring Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin and Asa Butterfield as "Ender," as well as The Way, Way Back, a comedic drama from Academy Award®-winning writers Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, which was acquired by FOX Searchlight at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. OddLot's other credits include producing the critically-acclaimed Drive, Rabbit Hole and From Prada to Nada. Past credits for Gigi Pritzker, OddLot's CEO, include The Wedding Planner, Green Street Hooligans and Mean Creek.
In March of 2011, OddLot expanded its footprint into foreign distribution by creating the foreign sales company Sierra/Affinity. This year OddLot commenced a multiyear, multipicture co-financing and distribution deal with Lionsgate which provides both companies a committed framework to co-produce and distribute films.
Sierra/Affinity is a leading independent film finance, production and foreign sales company, consistently delivering high-quality, commercially viable feature films for a global audience. Sierra/Affinity capitalizes on the ever-evolving global film marketplace, representing sales of third-party films as well as its own productions designed to appeal to both the North American and global marketplaces. In addition to representing sales of third party films, the company acts as the exclusive sales agent for films developed and produced by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, OddLot Entertainment, Bold Films and Sierra Pictures and its partner, Incentive Filmed Entertainment. Sierra/Affinity is also compiling a slate of wide-release, director-driven commercial films with domestic and global appeal that will complement the slates built by its partners. In October 2012, Sierra/Affinity leveraged its international film and distribution capabilities to enter into a partnership with leading global TV program distributor Engine Entertainment to jointly launch Sierra/Engine Television designed to globally distribute television productions.