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Another Sundance Buy: Magnolia Acquires "The Queen of Versailles"

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by Anne Thompson
January 20, 2012 8:57 PM
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Jackie Siegel in "The Queen of Versailles"
Los Angeles Times Jackie Siegel in "The Queen of Versailles"

And another Sundance opening night doc gets snapped up: Magnolia Pictures has acquired the North American rights for must-see crowd-pleaser "The Queen of Versailles." Filmmaker and photographer Lauren Greenfield paints an intimate portrait of excess and post-2008 fall-out. As one-time billionaire David Siegel says after he and abandons building his fantasy 90,000- square-foot Florida mansion based on the palace of Versailles, "it's a story of riches to rags." Alas, they must stay in their old 26,000-foot manse whose household staff is reduced from 19 to four, unable to keep up with the seven kids and yappy pooping dogs underfoot. Other household pets die from neglect.

Greenfield had an instinct that there was a story in the Siegels, and was able to follow David and his sweet but clueless trophy wife Jackie on ten trips to Florida and one to Jackie's hometown, Binghamton, New York, as they lose the private jet and fly commercial and rent a car that does not, Jackie is informed, come with a driver. 

Angered by the film's publicity materials, Siegel filed a defamation suit against the Sundance Institute, Greenfield and her husband and executive producer, Frank Evers.  The LATimes called the doc "candid and unsettling." That's an understatement.

Magnolia plans to release the film this summer.

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