'Brooklyn's Finest' breaks the deal-making ice

The edgy police procedural from Antoine Fuqua scores the first major sale at the Utah gathering, getting picked up by Senator Entertainment/Sony Pictures.

January 19, 2009|Chris Lee

PARK CITY — The first major deal of Sundance '09 was struck Saturday night when Senator Entertainment bought the North American rights to "Brooklyn's Finest," a violent and operatic police procedural from director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day"). The deal is a co-venture with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group.

"This is very much about chemistry: the right distributor for the right film," said Senator Distribution President Mark Urman. "We saw the film Friday night. It was edgy, daring and definitely not studio fare. But it was polished, has great production values, and it defines the kind of movies our company wants to do."

The movie becomes Senator's second Sundance-related property this year. A Senator-produced adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' book of inter-related short stories "The Informers" will debut here Thursday.

The "Brooklyn's Finest" deal was brokered by chief executive Marco Weber and Urman for Senator and CAA and the William Morris Agency on behalf of the filmmakers. Senator paid just under $3 million to acquire the film's domestic rights and pledged significantly more than that for its marketing and distribution. The movie is tentatively scheduled for a theatrical release in November.

Before the film had sold to Senator, a source close to the movie said that Fuqua was facing pressure from acquisitions executives to change the downbeat ending of "Brooklyn's Finest" -- which stars Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke and Don Cheadle as police officers in a triptych of intertwined tales of situational ethics -- to make it more audience-friendly.

But after the sale on Saturday, Fuqua said that the report wasn't true.


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