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Magnolia Pictures has closed a deal to acquire the Sundance documentary The Queen of Versailles, the company announced on Friday. A source said the price was in the mid-six figures. The film premiered on opening night at Sundance.
Magnolia said it is planning a summer theatrical release; a source said a video-on-demand release would follow the bow in theaters.
Directed by Lauren Greenfield, The Queen of Versailles tells the story of David and Jackie Siegel, a couple who began building the largest home in America before the housing crash put the couple’s fortune in jeopardy. Greenfield spent three years with the couple and their family. Producers are Greenfield, Danielle Renfrew Behrens, Frank Evers and Dan Cogan.
“The Queen of Versailles brilliantly encapsulates the salient issues of the American economic downturn, while also being one of the jaw-droppingly entertaining films I’ve seen in a very long time,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles in a statement. “Lauren Greenfield is an exceptionally talented filmmaker with a wonderfully humanistic touch, and she has found a truly magnetic, charismatic star in Jackie Siegel.”
Mrs. Siegel, a Real Housewives-esque character, attended the sold-out Eccles Theater premiere on Thursday night in a leopard-print dress and fur coat.
“I am really excited to be working with Magnolia, who we huddled with late into last night,” Greenfield said in a statement. “I feel like we have found a true kindred spirit, who cares as much about our film as we do. I am really looking forward to working with such a smart, impressive team.”
Though Magnolia distributes many of its titles via its Ultra VOD program — a model that allows films to be purchased for viewing at home before they are premiered in theaters — The Queen of Versailles will not go that route. A source said that another prospective buyer put forth a plan that involved a pre-theatrical VOD run, but the filmmakers preferred that the documentary premiere in theaters.
Submarine’s Josh Braun and David Koh repped the film. The deal was negotiated for Magnolia by SVP Dori Begley. Domestic television and international rights are still available.
Email: Matthew.Belloni@THR.com; Daniel.Miller@THR.com
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