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SXSW: IFC Midnight Acquires Horrific Kill List, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop Doc Sells

by Anne Thompson
March 15, 2011 5:09 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood

It ruined my lunch: a description of a head bashing on a table from Ben Wheatley's second feature, Kill List, which sold North American rights to IFC Midnight at SXSW, which is emerging as yet another indie market.

Rodman Flender’s comedic road tour doc Conan O'Brien Can't Stop also sold after its rousing Sunday SXSW world premiere. AT & T will take the film out on several platforms and provide P & A for indie distributor Abramorama's theatrical release as Magnolia picks up home entertainment and some VOD rights. AT & T plans to screen the film for their AT & T U-verse® TV subscribers just before the film goes into theaters.

Thompson on Hollywood

“Last year, with no traditional advertising in place and just one Tweet, Conan nearly sold out his entire 42 show tour in a matter of hours, with about 130,000 people in attendance throughout the national tour," stated producers Gavin Polone and Rachel Griffin. “This was a remarkable sign of the power of social media, and a clear message that it is not just business as usual. For a film like ours, and with Conan at its center, it was imperative that we not follow typical business models in the release of this film.  This distribution deal has been structured in a way that satisfies our audience in every possible manner, and allows people to see the film on whichever platform they most prefer -- be it on a big screen in a dark theater which lots of other fans or the small screen of their choice.”

Weinstein Co. also acquired the coming-of-age football documentary The Undefeated, which made its world premiere Sunday. The verite doc follows three poor kids from inner-city Memphis and the volunteer coach who tries to help them win the first playoff game in the high school's 110-year history.

Sony Pictures Classics, IFC, Magnolia, Oscilloscope, Abramorama and several other micro-indies are scoping out the indie fare here. Distribs are sniffing around several titles, including Ti West's comedic haunting tale The Innkeepers, which MPI might sell to a bigger distrib; New York post-apocalyptic thriller The Divide; and low-budget art film The Dish and the Spoon, starring Mumblecore icon Greta Gerwig.

Screening in the SX Fantastic section, Kill List stars Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, and MyAnna Buring, was written by Wheatley and Amy Jump, and produced by Claire Jones and Andy Starke, and Barry Ryan co-produced the Warp X/Rook Film production for the UK Film Council and Film4 in association with Screen Yorkshire. After a job goes bad in Kiev, ex-soldier and contract killer Jay (Maskell) reluctantly takes an assignment that takes him to the dark side.

Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, said: "Our team was blown away by KILL LIST. It is a relentless, stylish, brilliantly directed journey into darkness that confirms Ben Wheatley as a major director. This is a film that is destined to be discussed for years and we are honored to begin the conversation with audiences across the country. We are happy to be working with our friends at Protagonist, Warp X and Film4 once again."

Here's the LAT's Kill List review.

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More: Festivals, Genres, SXSW, Independents

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