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Lionsgate has won a bidding war to snag the rights to Freeheld, which tells the true story of the late Laurel Hester, a police detective who fought government officials for equal treatment when she was diagnosed with cancer.
In a contest that went overnight and into dawn in the German capital, the company beat out numerous other bidders, including Focus Features, Sony Pictures Classics, and Netflix, among others. The deal for North American rights was in the high seven figures, according to sources. Even more noteworthy is that the bidding war erupted after execs saw only a 12-minute sizzle reel, and not a completed film, since Freeheld is still in post.
Moore is a likely best actress Oscar winner this year for her work in Still Alice, so the movie was already generating interest going into Berlin, where the producers, including Endgame Entertainment, decided to shop domestic rights. Last year, a bidding war also erupted in Berlin over The Imitation Game before it was completed.
CAA, which packaged and arranged financing, and WME Global repped the rights, with CAA conducting the auction through the wee hours. Endgame’s James D. Stern negotiated the deal on behalf of the producers.
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The film, equal parts love story and civil rights drama, follows Hester’s relationship with her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, played by Ellen Page, and their fight both against the illness and government officials, who were preventing Hester’s pension benefits from going to Andree.
Steve Carell, Michael Shannon, and Luke Grimes also star in the drama, based on the 2007 Academy Award-winning documentary short of the same name.
Peter Sollett directed the film and Ron Nyswayner penned the script.
Page is also one of the producers of the movie, along with Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Kelly Bush, Stern, Richard Fischoff, Duncan Montgomery, Jack Selby, and Cynthia Wade. Also producing was Phil Hunt and Compton Ross of Head Gear Films who co-financed the film.
Bankside Films, who co-financed the film, is handling foreign sales.