ThinkFilm nabs 'Escapist'


ThinkFilm has picked up all North American rights to the British prison drama "The Escapist," which had drawn buzz but failed to sell at January's Sundance Film Festival.

The price is said to be in the $1 million range plus a significant P&A commitment.

ThinkFilm expects to release the movie in the fall and follow a similar platform rollout as it did in 2007 with its Sidney Lumet morality tale "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."

Brian Cox and Joseph Fiennes star in the gritty, stylish movie about a group of inmates trying to break out of a London prison. With a dual time structure that cuts between the planning for the escape and the escape itself, "Escapist" breaks new ground in a subgenre that has been tread such by movies as "The Longest Yard" and "The Shawshank Redemption."

The Parallel Films and Picture Farm production is directed by Rupert Wyatt from a script he wrote with Daniel Hardy. Adrian Sturges and Alan Moloney produced; William Morris Independent handled the sale.

A number of companies were thought to be pursuing the film in Park City, with Fox Searchlight thought to be the front-runner. The company was interested but no deal materialized.

With a prestige cast and existential themes but with many genre elements, "Escapist" is seen as a potential crossover candidate. ThinkFilm U.S. distribution chief Mark Urman said "it went into the world as a genre picture even though that's not really what it is," and WMI's Cassian Elwes said the film could "appeal to an art crowd and an action crowd." Both compared it to "Memento," which also created a puzzle by jumping back and forth in time.

ThinkFilm previously bought a number of movies that unspooled at Sundance, including the family drama "Momma's Man," the romantic comedy "The Last Word" and the coming-of-age saga "Phoebe in Wonderland."