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

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 20, 2012 at 8:57PM

And another Sundance opening night doc gets snapped up: Magnolia Pictures has acquired the North American rights for crowd-pleaser "The Queen of Versailles." Filmmaker and photographer Lauren Greenfield paints an intimate portrait of excess and post-2008 fall-out.
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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.

This article is related to: Sundance 2012 News, Documentaries, Sundance 2012, Sundance 2012 Reviews, Sundance, Festivals


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.