Why Lindsay Lohan's 'The Canyons' Said No to Harvey Weinstein

8:00 AM PST 02/21/2013 by Tatiana Siegel
Courtesy of Sodium Fox
"The Canyons"

IFC paid $1 million for the actress' next project after a two-week negotiation that started in New Orleans and ended in Berlin.

This story first appeared in the March 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

In the end, IFC Films beat out a hot-and-heavy Harvey Weinstein for the erotic thriller The Canyons.

The distributor, known for embracing risky but buzzy fare like Lars von Trier's Antichrist, prevailed over Weinstein's Radius label and Magnolia Pictures in the sweepstakes for the steamy film starring Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen. Sources say IFC paid $1 million for North American rights to director Paul Schrader's homage to Los Angeles noir -- not bad for a film that cost $250,000, much of it raised via Kickstarter.

Despite its slim budget, Canyons generated the type of media coverage reserved for Kardashian nuptials, thanks to its troubled star and her contractually obligated four-way sex scene. As a result, the filmmakers fielded several unconventional offers including pitches from an unnamed European billionaire, who was interested in self-distributing the title, and San Francisco Film Society executive director Ted Hope, who was seeking to partner on the film by corralling resources for a first-of-its kind DIY launch.

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WME's Alexis Garcia, the film's lead rep, and IFC's Arianna Bocco began talks less than two weeks before the deal closed Feb. 14. Talks spanned from New Orleans (where Garcia negotiated from the Super Bowl) to Berlin (where Bocco finalized the deal during the city's film festival). But before the sides came to terms, Radius and Magnolia also made a play, with Radius heads Tom Quinn and Jason Janego wooing Canyons producer Braxton Pope over dinner at Soho House in Los Angeles.

After screening the film, Radius made a tempting offer, but Weinstein's crew sought to retain final cut. Schrader balked. Then, three days before IFC closed its deal, Magnolia picked up another hot-button film with copious sex, von Trier's Nymphomaniac -- making it unlikely to be the eventual home for Schrader's opus. "It was important to have a partner with taste, progressive ideas and distribution expertise," says Pope.

IFC is planning a joint VOD and theatrical release in conjunction with a special presentation at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in the summer -- sweet revenge for a movie rejected by the Sundance and SXSW festivals.

Email: Tatiana.Siegel@THR.com, Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27

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