Summit Entertainment has worked hard to broaden its image as just the “Twilight” studio and winning the Best Picture statue for “The Hurt Locker” this past March was a huge step. Along with the solid performance of the thriller “The Ghost Writer” in limited release ($14 million in no more than 819 theaters), the mini-major is slowly turning into an appealing alternative to Lionsgate or The Weinstein Company for independent producers wanting to find an experienced and smart distributor for their films. That was the case today when Summit acquired domestic and some international rights to Doug Liman’s “Fair Game,” a dramatic thriller based on the true story of outed CIA agent Valerie Palme.
The only U.S. film in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, “Fair Game” features Naomi Watts as Palme and Sean Penn as her husband Joe Wilson and is based on their personal accounts of the politically charged events in the novel “Politics of Truth.” It was the first film Penn shot after winning his second Academy Award for “Milk.”
On the news, Summit Entertainment co-chairmen Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman released said, “‘Fair Game’ is a very strong engaging thriller that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats. The performances are fantastic and Doug Liman has once again delivered a powerful film that harnesses all of the creative means at his disposal. We look forward to bringing the film to theaters.”
More intriguing is producer Ricky Strauss of Participant Media, who noted, “”We’re delighted that our good friends at Summit have come aboard as domestic distributors of ‘Fair Game’ as they’ve demonstrated with ‘The Hurt Locker’ and ‘The Ghost Writer’ how adept they are at handling dramatic films of this quality.”
Along with “Writer,” which could be a player by the end of the year, this puts “Game” in awards season contender status for the fall. While reviews and reaction out of Cannes will likely determine how the studio will ultimately handle and release the film, the fact they jumped in before its premiere is a positive sign.
The studio had no comment on a release date at publication.
In other news…
– The announcement Wednesday that Ricky Gervais would return as host for January’s 2011 Golden Globes Awards show was particularly surprising. It’s heartening that the HFPA would give Gervais a second go at it, especially considering the mixed to negative reaction of his first hosting experience earlier this year. Many in attendance and watching from home thought Gervais had “lost the room” and that his jokes and digs were getting a wee too personal for the big names in the audience (see David Letterman and Chris Rock’s Oscar hosting runs for similar screw ups). On the other hand, ratings count and the Globes numbers this year were up significantly from 2009’s anemic results. Why they felt the need to lock Gervais down in the spring is eyebrow raising (were they fearing the Emmys would steal him away?), but at least he’s got eight months to work on his monologue.
– Ever wonder what happened to the Jim Carrey Sundance flick “I Love You Philip Morris”? You’re not the only one. Rumors spread around the festival circuit this year (a year after the film debuted) that the un-released comedy was being drastically recut. Turns out that wasn’t the case and the producers have been battling their original distributor to fashion an appropriate marketing and distribution plan. Peter Debruge provides some of the gory details in LA Weekly as well as some fine commentary on why “Morris” deserves to eventually make it to the big screen.
– As evident by Alan Sepinwall’s impending and exciting arrival here at HitFix, there has been lots of moves on the media chessboard recently. Notably, IndieWire announced yesterday that former Variety critic Todd McCarthy was joining the site with a new blog, Deep Focus. McCarthy’s reviews were considered a must read for years at Variety, but the trade paper mishandled trying to turn him into a contractual, freelance employee and ended up completely losing him. This pundit has personally not been a fan of many of McCarthy’s reviews, but here’s hoping that IndieWire, which has been the source for breaking news at festivals such as Sundance and Toronto, will reinvigorate his passion for cinema.
For the latest entertainment commentary and breaking news year round, follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory .