Neal McDonough, Sean Astin Join ‘The Shift’; Brainstorm Media Acquires ‘Acidman’ With Dianna Agron, Thomas Haden Church; Hope Runs High Takes BAFTA-Nominated Doc ‘Rebellion’ — Film Briefs
Matt Grobar, Deadline
EXCLUSIVE: Brainstorm Media has acquired U.S. rights to the sci-fi drama Acidman, starring Dianna Agron (Glee) and Thomas Haden Church (Sideways), slating it for a day-and-date release on March 31.
The film from acclaimed indie director Alex Lehmann (Paddleton, Blue Jay) watches as Maggie tracks down her estranged, UFO-obsessed father Lloyd, who is now living in the Oregon. Together, they then attempt to make first contact.
Lehmann and Chris Dowling wrote the pic, also featuring Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris (Sharp Objects), which world premiered to critical acclaim at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. Liz Cardenas, Lehmann, Agron and Christian Agypt served as its producers. Brainstorm Media’s Director of Acquisitions, Alex Peters, negotiated the deal for Acidman on behalf of the company, with CAA’s Allison Hironaka on behalf of the filmmakers.
Grandave International Seals North American Deal On ‘The Channel’ To Brainstorm Media In Toronto
Melanie Goodfellow, Deadline
EXCLUSIVE: Grandave International has sold North America rights to action movie The Channel to Brainstorm Media, which is planning a theatrical and VOD release for April, 2023.
The film is directed by William Kaufman (The Hit List, Daylight’s End) who also wrote the screenplay.
The Channel was produced by Andrew and Isaac Lewis (There Comes A Knocking), Jon Wroblewski (Age Out, A Violent Separation), Christian Sosa (Age Out, Hostile Territory), while Paul Reichelt and Stanley Preschutti (The Card Counter) acted as executive producers.
The cast includes Max Martini (13 Hours and Captain Phillips) and Clayne Crawford (Fineskind and Lethal Weapon)
The Channel revolves around a desperate criminal, his out-of-control brother, and their motley crew of ex-marines who, after their bank heist goes wrong, must escape New Orleans and the determined FBI agent who pursues them.
“Brainstorm Media execute brilliantly their movie releases, I could not be more excited that The Channel found a home with them,” said Grandave International President Tamara Nagahiro.
“We are thrilled to be releasing William Kaufman’s latest action-packed movie next Spring,” said Brainstorm’s Head of Distribution, Michelle Shwarzstein “We’re fans of Kaufman and excited to be in business with Grandave on this very entertaining film.”
Grandave International’s TIFF market also line-up includes Righteous Thieves, The Final Vow and Clay.
Comedy ‘How to Please a Woman’ Sold to U.S., U.K., Other Territories by Beta Cinema (EXCLUSIVE)
Leo Barraclough, Variety
Comedy “How to Please a Woman,” starring “Veep” and “Bridget Jones Diary” actor Sally Phillips, has generated brisk business for Beta Cinema. Brainstorm Media has taken all rights for the U.S. and will release the film theatrically on July 22, and pay TV operator Sky has secured all rights for the U.K.
Beta Cinema also sold all rights for Canada (Mongrel Media), Poland (Monolith Films), former Yugoslavia (Discovery), Czech Republic (Bohemia Motion Pictures) and Hungary (ADS).
Madman will put the film out in Australia and New Zealand on a wide release on May 19 and May 26, respectively.
Phillips stars as 50-year-old Gina, who feels she has become “invisible to everyone.” Establishing a house-cleaning service, staffed by good-looking male cleaners who provide cleaning with benefits, the film follows her as she learns how to ask for what she wants and encourages other women to do the same.
“We fell in love with this movie as we feel most people will when they see it,” said Michelle Shwarzstein, head of distribution at Brainstorm Media. “This film manages to tackle an often taboo subject in the funniest and most heartfelt way. People will walk away smiling.”
Paul Wiegard, co-founder and CEO of Madman Entertainment, stated: “Australian and New Zealand exhibitors are backing this feel-good, relatable comedy about female sexuality and vulnerability. More than 300 screens have already confirmed. The film offers a fun girls’ night out, the themes of empowerment and pleasure connecting with the primary audience.”
Thorsten Ritter, exec VP acquisitions, sales and marketing at Beta Cinema, stated: “We acquired ‘How to Please a Woman’ very early at script stage as it resonated with us as a truthful, enlightening and smart comedy for a mature audience. I am very pleased to see all of what we envisaged from the script and the filmmakers behind it worked out so beautifully.”
Erik Thomson (“The Black Balloon,” “The Furnace”), Alexander England (“Alien: Covenant”), and Caroline Brazier (“Three Summers,” “Rake”) round out the cast of this Australian production, written and directed by Renée Webster.
It is produced by Tania Chambers and Judi Levine of Feisty Dame Productions and Such Much Films, supported by Screenwest, Lotterywest and Screen Australia.
At the Cannes Film Market, Beta Cinema will host a market screening for “How to Please a Woman” on May 19, 11:30 a.m. at Olympia 3.
Recent highlights for Beta Cinema include Berlinale 2022 Special Gala entry “The Forger,” featuring Louis Hofmann from the Netflix series “Dark,” and David Hayman and Udo Kier starrer “My Neighbor Adolf.”
Brainstorm Media Acquires Stephen Fingleton’s ‘Nightride’
Elsa Keslassy, Variety
Brainstorm Media has acquired North American rights for “Nightride,” a dark humored, action-packed thriller from BAFTA-nominated helmer Stephen Fingleton (“The Survivalist”), starring Moe Dunford (“Vikings,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) and Joana Ribeiro (“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”).
The deal, which was handled by UTA Independent Film Group, will see Brainstorm releasing the film in select theaters and on demand next spring.
“Nightride” is set in Belfast over the course of a single night, and follows a smalltime dealer, Budge, as he tries to pull one last deal with cash borrowed from a dangerous loan shark. When the handover goes terribly wrong, Budge finds himself in a race against the clock to get a hold of his missing product and find a new buyer before the loan shark tracks him down. Irish scribe Ben Conway (“Hunter’s Fall”) penned the script.
“We are thrilled to be working again with Pulsar on another stellar film,” said Brainstorm’s head of distribution, Michelle Shwarzstein. “‘Nightride’ is an expertly crafted, edge-of-your-seat thriller that we can’t wait to show audiences in North America.”
Pulsar Content, the Paris-based sales vehicle headed by Gilles Sousa and Marie Garrett, has also sold the film in major international territories, including Vertigo for the U.K., Programstore for France, Lusomundo for Portugal, Mauris Film for CIS, MCF for Ex Yougoslavia, Gulf Film for the Middle East, The Coup for South Korea and Shaw for Singapore.
“Nightride” was produced by Paul Kennedy for Village Films, Jon Silk for Silk Mass and Céline Dornier for Logical Pictures. The film is expected to be delivered at the end of the year.
Fingleton made his feature debut with “The Survivalist,” a post-apocalyptic thriller which was nominated for a BAFTA and won prizes at Tribeca, Sitges and the British Independent Film Awards.
If You Thought Dating Was Bad, Wait ‘Til You See Billie Piper’s Rare Beasts Trailer
Anne Cohen, Refinery29
In nearly every tale of romance, there’s a foil. You know, the nightmare date that provides the catalyst for the protagonist to realize that they’re meant for bigger and better things. In When Harry Met Sally, it’s the mythical guy who plucks a hair off Meg Ryan’s head to floss with it at the table; in Gilmore Girls, it’s Jackson’s cousin Rune. But Rare Beasts, Billie Piper’s directorial debut, doesn’t have a foil — at least, not a traditional one. Instead of Mandy (Piper, who also wrote the script) leaving the insecure, vile Pete (Leo Bill) sitting across from her in a stylish London bar on the trash heap of bad choices, she leans in. She’s in her early 30s, her son is a brat, her parents are dysfunctional, and she really just wants a man. Why not choose chaos? Yes, she will see him again. No, it probably will not go well.
Rare Beasts, which will play in select theaters and on demand August 20, is the film equivalent of a pressure cooker. Anxiety, fear, loathing, lust, hatred, love, and ambition are just some of the emotions swirling within Mandy as she navigates life as an adult woman in a world that keeps telling her to do more, want more, expect more. When she meets Pete , an obnoxious traditionalist who thinks the opposite, it’s almost a relief. Maybe if she sets her bar a little lower, she can just let go. “My late 20s and my early 30s were a really challenging time,” Piper told Refinery29 ahead of Rare Beast’s trailer release. “I felt that there was this common female crisis — certainly amongst my peers — about this idea of ‘you can have it all, you can be a working mother and a professional woman and have a social life.’ All of those things in combination, I found to be incredibly stressful. That messaging was really overbearing and I saw lots of women around me being out of control, and I wanted to write about this in a raw, hopefully authentic way.” It took Piper five years to finish the script, precisely because she was juggling raising two sons with a successful career as an actress and producer. Still, Rare Beasts marks her first time in the director’s chair — and it wasn’t an easy sell.
“It was a leap of faith,”“People were like ‘There are no likeable characters, everyone is really mean to each other, and it’s really theatrical,’ Piper said. “Fortunately for me, by the time it got picked up, it was in the wake of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and [other] really brilliant women talking honestly about what it costs to be a woman. The timing was crucial.”
There certainly are some echoes of Fleabag in the trailer for Rare Beasts from the desolate characters to the almost upsettingly blunt dialogue. “When you meet the characters, they’re all at the end of their rope,” Piper said. “There’s not a lot of optimism. But it felt familiar to me, and I hope that women will be able to go ‘I do know what that feeling is, I do understand that anxiety, I do feel pulled and pushed in that way.’”
But there’s something darker, and less hopeful at play here. Fewer hot priests, more nihilism. Rare Beasts feels like a fever dream of toxic masculinity, set to a fairy-tale score. (And yes, that is Lily James you spot dancing in a wedding dress — she and Piper are friends, and she was eager to lend her support.) Rare Beast joins Piper’s long history of challenging taboos about women on screen, starting with the controversial cult hit The Secret Diary of A Call Girl, which she developed with frequent collaborator and Succession writer and producer Lucy Prebble. “That show got so critically panned in the UK,” she said. “It was like, ‘How dare you talk about a woman enjoying her job as a sex worker?’ It didn’t land then. But it’s a very different time now — you can talk authentically about certain things.” More recently, her and Prebbles’ HBO Max series, I Hate Suzie, about an actress woman whose nudes are hacked and her life turned inside out, was nominated for 12 awards, and renewed for a second season.
With her pitch-black comedy, Piper hopes to confront the messiest aspects of modern womanhood, while also providing a safe space to process difficult feelings. “Wanting romance now is really challenging,” she said. “[Rare Beasts] is about what I would consider the guinea pig generation of a woman making more money than a man. There’s a huge guilt to being a working mother, and there’s a lot of confusion around modern feminism — am I being a good enough feminist? Am I supporting the cause well enough? Pressure, pressure, pressure. It makes for something quite unhinged.”
Watch the full trailer below:
RARE BEASTS TRAILER BILLIE PIPER DARK DATING COMEDY ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON JULY 22, 2021, 3:00 AM MOVIES • ENTERTAINMENT • MOVIE TRAILERS WRITTEN BY ANNE COHEN PHOTO: COURTESY OF BRAINSTORM MEDIA.
Isabelle Huppert Starrer ‘Mama Weed’ Finds U.S. Home (EXCLUSIVE)
Elsa Keslassy, Variety
Music Box Films and Brainstorm Media have acquired U.S. distribution rights to “Mama Weed,” Jean-Paul Salomé’s crime comedy starring Isabelle Huppert.
Sold by France’s Le Pacte, the movie stars Huppert as Patience Portefeux, a French-Arabic translator for the Paris drug police who stumbles into a massive store of marijuana and becomes a savvy wholesale pusher no one ever saw coming.
Music Box Films will release the film in theaters July 16, with Brainstorm Media handling the digital and home entertainment releases, slated for July 23.
The deal was negotiated by Brainstorm’s Michelle Shwarzstein, head of distribution, and Le Pacte’s Camille Neel, head of international sales, with Music Box Films’ head of acquisitions Brian Andreotti.
“Isabelle Huppert gives a delightfully unexpected performance in this hidden gem of a film that we are thrilled to share,” said Shwarzstein. “We are also very excited to continue our great track record of partnering with the team at Music Box Films to do so, ensuring this crowdpleaser finds a warm reception in the U.S.”
The movie, based on Hannelore Cayre’s popular novel, was nominated at this year’s Cesar Awards for best adapted screenplay. Huppert plays a translator who interprets the daily calls and conversations between the city’s biggest drug dealers. In the evenings, she looks in on her aging mother at the long-term care facility where she is months behind in paying the bills. When she overhears the son of one of her mother’s nurses on the wiretap at work, Patience is moved to protect him. But her involvement in his business quickly escalates and she finds herself in possession of a huge store of marijuana and the insider knowledge required to move it.
Although it was released in theaters in 2020 during the pandemic, “Mama Weed” was successful at the French box office, as well in Germany, among other European countries. Le Pacte has sold the film around the world.
Werewolf Thriller ‘Bloodthirsty’ Lands at Brainstorm Media, Sets Release Date (EXCLUSIVE)
Rebecca Rubin, Variety
“Bloodthirsty,” a werewolf thriller about a rising singer who finds herself in a compromising position, has sold U.S. distribution rights to Brainstorm Media. It will release in theaters and on demand on April 23.
The film, which premiered at the virtual Fantastic Fest Celebration, was directed by Amelia Moses. Wendy Hill-Tout wrote the script with her daughter, songwriter Lowell.
The story centers on Grey (portrayed by Lauren Beatty), a singer who relocates to a remote cabin to work on her second album with noted music producer Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk). But as her songwriting progresses, she starts to transform into a powerful, bloodthirsty beast.
Lowell says the film was inspired by her own experiences and the pressure she felt when trying to write a follow-up album to her first record, “We Loved Her Dearly.” Along with crafting the screenplay, she also wrote original music for “Bloodthirsty.”
“We can’t wait to share this fantastically twisted werewolf horror film with audiences nationwide,” says Michelle Shwarzstein, Brainstorm Media’s VP of marketing and acquisitions. “Led by an amazingly talented female filmmaking team, this movie will not fail to surprise and delight.”
“Bloodthirsty” is produced by Wendy Hill-Tout and Michael Peterson. David Bond and Alan Bacchus served as executive producers.
Brainstorm Media is a boutique film distributor and production company, which was founded in 1995. Recent releases include “The Wolf Hour” with Naomi Watts, “Working Man” featuring Peter Gerety and Talia Shire, “Into the Labyrinth” starring Dustin Hoffman and the YA horror series “The Sinners.”
The deal was negotiated by Michelle Shwarzstein and Steve Break on behalf of Brainstorm Media and Pip Ngo of XYZ Films on behalf of the filmmakers.
THE SINNERS Have Arrived In Latest Trailer
Sarah Musnicky, Nightmarish Conjurings
Brainstorm Media has unveiled the official poster, trailer, and release date for the upcoming thriller THE SINNERS. Make sure you check out the trailer below and let us know what you think! THE SINNERS is a thrilling murder mystery about seven girls from a religious town that start a cult where they embody the seven deadly sins. Seven schoolgirls, part of a clique dubbed The Sins, become the lethal target of an unknown killer after a harmless prank goes horribly wrong.
The film stars Kaitlyn Bernard (Spontaneous, A Father’s Nightmare), Brenna Llewellyn (“The Followers”, When A Tree Falls), Brenna Coates (“Coroner”, Ice Girls), Keilani Elizabeth Rose (“Lucifer”, “Flimsy”), Jasmine Randhawa (There’s Something Between Us), Carly Fawcett (Night Sweats, “Disasters At Sea”), Natalie Malaika (Fractured, Stolen By My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story), Aleks Paunovic (Puppet Killer, “Van Helsing”), Michael Eklund (Bright Hill Road, “Wynonna Earp”), Tahmoh Penikett (“Dollhouse”, “Altered Carbon”), and Lochlyn Munro (“Riverdale”, Scary Movie).
The film is directed by Courtney Paige (Everything and Everyone, Suspension). The screenplay was written by Courtney Paige, Erin Hazlehurst (The House That Sterling Built, 9 Questions), and Madison Smith (“Salvation”, “The Order”).
THE SINNERS will be available On-Demand on February 19, 2021, from Brainstorm Media.
Robert Port’s ‘Recon’ Gets Veterans Day Eve Bow Via Fathom And Brainstorm Media
Patrick Hipes, Deadline
EXCLUSIVE: Fathom Events and Brainstorm Media are teaming on the theatrical release of Recon, the Robert Port military thriller starring Alexander Ludwig, Sam Keeley, Chris Brochu and Franco Nero. They are aiming to premiere the pic, set during World War II and based on a true story, as an exclusive one-night nationwide event November 10, the day before Veterans Day.
So far, the companies have lined up screenings on almost 350 screens at AMC and Regal venues as well as at smaller exhibitors, with an eye on 500 total before the event, which will feature behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew at each screening.
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Port, who with Bill Guttentag won the Documentary Short Oscar in 2003 for Twin Towers, adapted Richard Bausch’s 2008 novel Peace about the true war story into Recon and made it his feature debut. The film centers on one long day as four American soldiers stationed in Italy debate their own fates and life itself as they struggle to make it off a mountain alive. They face the worst that war can offer and as a result each finds his own peace.
RELATED STORY Fathom Events To Premiere Rod Lurie’s Military Thriller ‘The Outpost’ In Theaters This Summer Enderby Entertainment’s Rick Dugdale produced with Richard Bullock. Maury Povich is executive producer.
Fathom and Brainstorm previously partnered in July 2019 on a similar one-night-only event for Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story.
“We are honored to partner once again with Brainstorm Media and bring this important film to the big screen as we head into Veterans Day,” said Fathom CEO Ray Nutt. “Recon is a great way to honor those who served so bravely not only during World War II but to honor veterans of all wars.”
Added Brainstorm president Meyer Shwarzstein: “We are thrilled to be working with Fathom again on this film. No one is more effective at reaching audiences and bringing them together for a shared experience. Robert Port has made a film that is both authentic and moving and we can’t wait for people to see it this November.”
Louis Gossett Jr., Shohreh Aghdashloo Starrer 'The Cuban' Lands at Brainstorm Media
Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter
Tommaso Boddi/WireImage; David Livingston/Getty Images Louis Gossett Jr., Shohreh Aghdashloo
The coming-of-age drama from director Sergio Navarretta is set for a July 31 theatrical and virtual release. Brainstorm Media has picked up the U.S. rights to Sergio Navarretta’s The Cuban, a coming-of-age drama starring Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. and Shohreh Aghdashloo.
The indie, shot in Canada and Cuba, is set for a theatrical and virtual release July 31, with plans for VOD in the fall. “The Cuban is exactly the film we need right now. It’s filled with Afro-Cuban and salsa music, brilliant performances and a ton of heart,” Michelle Shwarzstein, vp marketing and acquisitions at Brainstorm Media, said in a statement Wednesday.
The Cuban, also starring Degrassi: Next Class actress Ana Golja, Giacomo Gianniotti and Lauren Holly, centers on a young Afghan immigrant named Mina (Golja) who starts her first job, at a nursing home, where an unexpected friendship with Luis, a Cuban resident with dementia, reignites her love of music and changes her life.
Gossett Jr. plays the nursing home resident Luis, and Aghdashloo portrays a former doctor who pushes her niece Mina to go to medical school. The screenplay is by Alessandra Piccione, and the film is produced by Piccione and Navarretta of S.N.A.P. Films, alongside Golja and Taras Koltun.
“I am thrilled to be partnering with Brainstorm to release The Cuban in the U.S. The film is a love letter to the diverse cultures and generations of people that make up our communities. In these unprecedented times, sharing art that uplifts the human spirit and brings us together is more crucial than ever before,” director Navarretta said in a separate statement.
The U.S. deal was negotiated by Shwarzstein at Brainstorm Media and by Piccione on behalf of the filmmakers.
Brainstorm is a full-service, all-rights, boutique distributor with deep, longstanding relationships and direct distribution deals that span the current digital landscape. Known for our creativity and flexibility, we craft every release strategy to fit the film. Armed with the wisdom of our 25+ years in the business and a passion for the content we represent, we continue to navigate the ever-changing media ecosystem with excitement.
Development and Production
Since its inception in 1995, Brainstorm Media has developed and produced dozens of features films and series. It currently has a robust slate of feature films and series in development with various platforms. In 2021, Soul Santa, the first film produced as part of the company’s partnership with Reuben Cannon Entertainment, was BET’s top-performing Christmas movie.