The folks at WME were scrambling this week in the wake of some very good news for client Edward Norton: Tim Blake Nelson's stoner comedy Leaves of Grass, which stars Norton as two very different pot-loving twin brothers, had landed a new distributor. It meant scrambling to pull Norton out of appearances on Jimmy Fallon and other TV shows and unbooking NY's Angelica and other commitments.
The movie debuted at the Toronto Film Festival last September during an atmosphere of gloom and doom, when distribs were too scared to buy. So when producer Avi Lerner didn't get the $2 million he required, he committed to releasing the movie himself via his First Look label (as he did with the mini-release of Bad Lieutenant, starring Nic Cage) with just $250,000 in theatrical ad spending in advance of a DVD release.
Leaves of Grass was supposed to open this Friday. But it played so well at SXSW that new distrib-on-the-block Telepathic Studios gave Lerner enough money to acquire the film and push its release back to summer, where the movie will get a much more substantial opening. David Dinerstein, who successfully handled Norton's The Illusionist, will do the honors again, and will serve as the public face of the film's distribution in lieu of Telepathic's anonymous backer. Here's Roger Ebert's rave.
@EdwardNorton tweets: "Update on LoG: very good news, the film has been picked up by a new company and will be given a much wider summer release. Details to come but we're all really happy because now it will likely get to many more cities than just NY and Dallas. This happened very much due to great audience response and reviews and press out of SxSW. So huge thanks to everybody in Austin."