Sundance: The Orchard, MoviePass Nab Bart Layton's 'American Animals'

by Etan Vlessing

The deal marks a new theatrical model by including MoviePass, the subscription service that sells up to a month’s worth of movie tickets for the price of one.
The Orchard and MoviePass on Wednesday broke new ground at Sundance by acquiring North American rights to Bart Layton’s heist pic American Animals.

Terms of the deal, brokered with UTA Independent Film Group, Film4 and AI Film, were not disclosed. But it is understood from a source close to the negotiations that $3 million was paid for the film, with a major P&A commitment.

The joint acquisition marks a new theatrical model as The Orchard is working with industry innovator MoviePass to release the true-crime thriller. MoviePass, the controversial subscription service that sells up to a month’s worth of movie tickets for the price of one, unveiled its new business, MoviePass Ventures, at Sundance.

American Animals, based on a true story and written and directed by Bart Layton, stars Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd and Udo Kier.

“I made this film to be watched in theaters and the fact that this incredibly impressive partnership and this innovative deal put so much emphasis on that is hugely exciting,” Layton said in a statement.

Sierra/Affinity is handling international sales on American Animals, which premiered Friday at Sundance.

Co-financed and developed by Film4 — which also co-financed and developed Layton’s first feature, The Imposter — and AI Film (I, Tonya), American Animals is a Raw production and was produced by Katherine Butler, Derrin Schlesinger, Dimitri Doganis and Mary Jane Skalski. Executive producers are Aviv Giladi, Len Blavatnik, David Kosse, Sam Lavender, Daniel Battsek and Tory Metzger.

The deal was negotiated by Danielle DiGiacomo, vp of acquisitions for The Orchard, and Khalid Itum, vp of business development, and Zac Bright, director of business development, from MoviePass and MoviePass Ventures.

Vince Holden at AI Film and UTA Independent Film Group negotiated on behalf of the filmmakers.