Matthew McConaughey Drama 'The Sea of Trees' Moves to A24 (Exclusive)
The film shifts from Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate, which picked it up days before its world premiere in competition at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Gus Van Sant's suicide-themed drama The Sea of Trees is moving from Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate to A24.
The film, which stars Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts, had been picked up amid a great deal of fanfare by Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate days before its world premiere in competition at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
But the drama, in which an American (McConaughey) who travels to Japan's famous "Suicide Forest" with the intention of taking his own life after the death of his wife (Watts), had a disastrous showing at the festival. Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate had yet to date the movie.
Still, A24 sees potential in Sea of Trees and is planning a late-summer release for the Chris Sparling-penned film. The storyline contains spiritual elements — a subplot that seemed to turn off critics at Cannes. In the film, the American decides to help a Japanese man (Ken Watanabe) who has become lost, and the duo set off on a reflective and sometimes dangerous journey to find their way out.
The move marks the second time A24 has rescued a languishing project from the Cannes 2015 lineup in the past four months. In February, A24 swooped in and picked up U.S. rights to Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster. Though that switch happened just ahead of the film's scheduled March 11 release, insiders say that original distributor Alchemy was scrambling amid financial woes and was expected to jettison the project off its schedule altogether if it couldn't find a new home for The Lobster.
Ken Kao's Waypoint Entertainment fully financed and produced Sea of Trees and Bloom, the foreign sales company launched two years ago by Kao and Alex Walton, handled international sales. The film has already opened in a number of territories overseas.
Producers are Kao, Gil Netter, Kevin Halloran, Sparling, F. Gary Gray, Brian Dobbins and Allen Fischer.
CAA and WME brokered the original deal with Roadside and Lionsgate as well as the move to A24 (CAA also recently handled The Lobster's switch to A24).