Lionsgate and CNN Films Buy Dinosaur 13 in First Doc Pickup of Sundance 2014
Dinosaur 13, the opening night film in the doc competition section, just became the first non-fiction acquisition of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. In a deal brokered by the film’s sales agent, Josh Braun of Submarine, Lionsgate and CNN Films bought North American rights for the buzz doc, which chronicles the real-life drama following the discovery in 1990 of the remains of “Sue,” the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found. Dinosaur 13 will play theatrically through Lionsgate before having a TV premiere through CNN.
The beautifully shot Dinosaur 13 had a lot of interest going into the fest, but nevertheless a distributor as big (and mainstream) as Lionsgate buying the film is something of a surprise and obviously speaks to its perceived commercial potential. (CNN Films seems an intuitive partner, having successfully teamed in 2013 with Magnolia on Blackfish and Cinedigm on Our Nixon.) Last year, the U.S. competition doc given the prime opening night slot, 20 Feet From Stardom, after a rapturous audience response was one of the very first purchases of Sundance 2013. It went on to become the highest grossing documentary of the year, taking in about $5 million, and yesterday was one of the five Academy Award nominees for Best Documentary.