SPC acquires 'Animal Kingdom'

Film won world cinema dramatic award at Sundance

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired U.S. and Latin American rights to David Michod's debut feature "Animal Kingdom," which world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month.

Written and directed by Michod, "Kingdom" follows a 17-year-old boy who is thrust into the Melbourne underworld after the death of his mother. The crime drama, which stars Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton and Luke Ford, was handed the world cinema dramatic award at Sundance.

"There is nothing more exciting than the birth of a major filmmaker," said SPC's Michael Barker and Tom Bernard. "David Michod is about as major as they come. Just when you think you have seen every conceivable angle on the gangster movie along comes a movie like 'Animal Kingdom' that is so fresh it feels like a reinvention of the genre."

SPC had several titles in this year's festival program -- Rodrigo Garcia's "Mother and Child," Nicole Holofcener's "Please Give," Aaron Schneider's "Get Low" and Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet" -- but "Kingdom" is its first acquisition in the 2010 frame. Last year, the company acquired "An Education," which has been nominated for three Oscars, including best picture.

Rena Ronson of UTA's Independent Film Group negotiated North American rights on behalf of "Kingdom's" producers, while E1 Entertainment International repped foreign sales. E1 has sold rights in the U.K. (Optimum Releasing), France (ARP Selection), Italy (Mikado Films), Scandinavia (Scanbox Entertainment) and CIS (Film Depot).

Liz Watts produced the film with production company Porchlight Films. Bec Smith and Vincent Sheehan are executive producers. "Kingdom" was financed in conjunction with Screen Australia, Porchlight, Film Victoria, Screen NSW, Fulcrum Finance and Showtime Australia and E1.

The UTA-repped Michod also co-wrote the 2010 Sundance feature "Hesher," which Newmarket Films acquired for domestic distribution during the fest.