Following its acclaimed world premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Focus Features has acquired domestic and select international rights (the U.K., Germany, and South Africa) to Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right. Focus Features CEO James Schamus made the announcement today.
In the movie, two teenaged children conceived by artificial insemination get the notion to seek out their birth father and introduce him into the family life that their two mothers have built for them. Once the donor is found, the household will never be the same, as family ties are defined, re-defined, and then re-re-defined. Ms. Cholodenko directed the feature from an original screenplay that she wrote with Stuart Blumberg.
The Kids Are All Right stars three-time Academy Award nominee Annette Bening and four-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore as the parents; Mia Wasikowska (of this winter’s Alice in Wonderland) and Josh Hutcherson (Journey to the Center of the Earth) as their children; and Mark Ruffalo (this winter’s Shutter Island) as the donor. The film was produced by Gilbert Films’ Gary Gilbert and Jordan Horowitz, Antidote Films’ Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Mandalay Vision’s Celine Rattray, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, and UGC PH’s Philippe Hellmann.
Ms. Cholodenko’s previous features as director include Laurel Canyon and High Art, both of which she also wrote and both of which were also produced by Mr. Levy-Hinte. The latter world-premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, earning her the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Ms. Cholodenko received her MFA from Columbia University, where Mr. Schamus was one of her professors in the mid-1990s. Mr. Blumberg wrote the original screenplay for Keeping the Faith, which Edward Norton directed and starred in, among other feature scripts.
Mr. Schamus said, “Lisa has made an extraordinary gem of a film that combines comedic surprise with poignant emotional truth. Not only is The Kids Are All Right infectiously funny and touching, but it’s also entirely accessible. We’re confident that audiences everywhere will fall in love with this family, as brilliantly brought to life by a remarkable cast of actors.”
Ms. Cholodenko commented, “The Kids Are All Right is all about family, and joining with Focus feels like a perfect marriage. I’m proud that the movie has now found such a special home.”
In a joint statement, the producers of The Kids Are All Right added, “We are so proud of the picture in every way and are thrilled that Focus – a company that has a long history of making groundbreaking films – is bringing this important, big-hearted, and hysterically funny movie to audiences.”
Bart Walker and John Sloss of Cinetic Media negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers with regard to the North American rights, and collaborated with Inferno Entertainment on the international aspects of the deal.
This is the first film acquisition announcement from Mandalay Vision since its debut earlier this month, when The Kids Are All Right producer Celine Rattray was tapped as president. Mandalay Vision is the independent film label of Mandalay Entertainment Group. Vision’s film slate includes Salvation Boulevard, a film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Larry Beinhart (Wag the Dog) which Mandalay Pictures optioned in 2009, and which George Ratliff (Joshua) will direct from a script that he wrote with Douglas Stone; and The Whistleblower, directed by Larissa Kondracki and starring Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, and David Strathairn.