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JAN
22
1 years

Sundance 2013: Magnolia and CNN Films Acquire Doc 'Blackfish'

UPDATED: Sources peg the deal at low seven figures and say that bidding also included Lionsgate, IFC Films, Radius and HBO Films.

Blackfish
"Blackfish"

PARK CITY -- Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films have netted North American rights to the documentary Blackfish.

Sources peg the deal at low seven figures and say that bidding also included Lionsgate, IFC Films, Radius and HBO Films. 

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite centers her film on Tilikum, the notorious killer whale responsible for three human deaths including a top trainer. Through this tragedy, Blackfish examines the consequences of keeping such intelligent mammals in captivity.

Blackfish, which was one of The Hollywood Reporter's 5 Hot Docs, premiered Jan. 19 at Temple Theatre as part of Sundance's U.S. Documentary Competition.

Magnolia plans a summer theatrical release for the documentary, followed by a domestic broadcast premiere on CNN later in 2013.

A source said CNN Films made a strong push to acquire the film that from the start of negotiations. On Jan. 18, CNN Films threw its hat into the ring as a buyer at Sundance when it used the festival as a springboard from which to announce a trio of documentary acquisitions.

Magnolia has enjoyed success with summer doc releases. The Queen of Versailles, acquired at last year’s Sundance festival and released in July, went on to be one of the top-grossing documentaries of 2012.

The Blackfish filmmakers were represented by Josh Braun of Submarine Entertainment.

Email: Tatiana.Siegel@THR.com; Daniel.Miller@THR.com

Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27@DanielNMiller