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Showtime is positioning itself as a potential player in the best documentary Oscar race by announcing Tuesday that it will release two docs theatrically — Listen to Me Marlon and Prophet’s Prey — under the newly created Showtime Documentary Films banner.
Because the films will be playing theaters before airing on the cable service, they will be eligible to compete for Academy Awards consideration, providing they meet other qualifications rules.
Both films, which were developed by Showtime, premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Their theatrical engagements are being designed as more than just Academy-qualifying runs, but as full, specialty film rollouts. Showtime Documentary Films will be the distributor of record, although it plans to hire consultants from the indie distribution world to help with the releases.
Listen to Me Marlon, directed by Steven Riley, offers a portrait of Oscar-winning actor Marlon Brando through his own words, captured in his previously unheard personal audio archive. The film will open July 29 at Film Forum in New York and July 31 at the Landmark in Los Angeles before rolling out nationwide throughout the summer and fall.
Amy Berg’s Prophet’s Prey, a look at cult leader Warren Jeffs, will debut nationally in the fall.
Marlon, a Passion Pictures production, was written, edited and directed by Riley (Fire in Babylon) and produced by John Battsek, R.J. Cutler and George Chignell, with Andrew Ruhemann serving as executive producer.
Prey, which Berg (West of Memphis) wrote, directed and exec produced, is based on Sam Brower’s book Prophet’s Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints. Dustin Lance Black, Shannon Costello, Anna Culp, Geralyn Dreyfous, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Erica Huggins, Jon Krakauer and Regina Scully also serve as executive producers. Brower and Katherine LeBlond produced.
Showtime develops original documentary programming through its existing Sho: Close Up banner and now the new Showtime Documentary Films banner.
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