Magnolia digs Zobel's 'Sound' for N. America


NEW YORK -- Magnolia Pictures nabbed North American rights to Craig Zobel's satirical black comedy "Great World of Sound," an entry in this week's South by Southwest Film Festival.

"Sound," which had its premiere in January at the Sundance Film Festival, follows two Southerners who unwittingly become part of a record industry scam operation. The feature combines narrative filmmaking with lead actors Patrick Healy and Kene Holliday and documentary-style "auditions" from aspiring performers unaware at the time that they were part of a film.

"Magnolia is one of the most progressive, exciting companies out there," said Zobel, a first-time feature director. "They were at the top of the wish list in my hopes of getting distribution."

Magnolia's Mark Cuban said: "Having performers come to a constructed set in response to classified ads was a brilliant choice on Craig's part," said Cuban, who co-owns Magnolia with Todd Wagner. Magnolia plans an early fall release.

The film is a GWS Media and Plum Pictures presentation. Zobel produced the film with Richard A. Wright, Melissa Palmer and David Gordon Green, the director he worked with as co-producer and production manager on several films. Daniela Taplin Lundberg and Matt Chapman served as executive producers.

Lundberg is a partner in Plum with Galt Niederhoffer and Celine Rattray. "Sound" marks the trio's third sale in its three-picture Sundance slate, following the acquisition of James Strouse's "Grace Is Gone" by the Weinstein Co. and Justin Theroux's "Dedication" by Weinstein and First Look Pictures during the fest.

The "Sound" deal was negotiated by Magnolia head of acquisitions Tom Quinn and head of business affairs Jason Janego with William Morris Independent. Zobel is represented by attorney Phyllis Kaufman of Fish & Richardson.