How Ali Abbasi’s ‘Holy Spider’ was sold in Utopia – Deadline

Exclusive: Utopia finalizes North American contract for Cannes photo ৷ Holy spider, Noir thriller by Danish-Iranian filmmaker Ali Abbasi. We told you the deal was but a few days ago.

Based on a gruesome fact, the film follows female journalist Rahimi (Tsar Amir Ibrahimi) who travels to the holy city of Mashhad, Iran, to investigate a serial killer (Mehdi Bajestani) who believes he is doing God’s work, clearing the way. Sinners kill sex workers. As the body numbers continue to grow, and Rahimi moves closer to revealing his guilt, access to justice becomes more difficult because the ‘Spider Killer’ is accepted by many as a hero.

The Persian language movie is one of the surprises of the ears. Not just because of its shock value, but because of North American buyers: New York indie sales and distribution firm Utopia. The acquisition marks the company’s largest and most lucrative acquisition to date

The deal was negotiated by Daniel Digiacomo on behalf of Utopia, CAA Media Finance and Eva Diderix on behalf of Wild Bunch International.

Sales and distribution firm Utopia was launched three years ago by filmmaker and musician Robert Schwartzman, son of Talia Shire and nephew of Francis Ford Coppola. It has been rumored for a while that the company may one day become a neon type. Even at the time of this deal, we were told that the company had “neon-like potential.”

Digiacomo, the company’s head of content, who is returning to the United States today, took time during his lever in London to tell us how the company grabbed the Cannes Buzz title.

Holy spider Coming to the festival was close to the top of my list, ”the New York native told us. “I fell in love Border [Abbasi’s previous film] And I like that this film sounds dark. I thought there would be more to it than your average genre film or true crime method. When I first saw it at the market screening last week I kept thinking about Travis Bickle Inn Taxi driver In terms of male character. Then you have this female hero for whom you are really rooting, who has risen up against so much sexism. Due to the multiple twists it is really worth watching multiple. As soon as we saw it, we were shocked. No one came out of the buyer’s screening, which is very unusual, even in the graphic moment. “

Digiacomo made an offer shortly after seeing it last week. “I have become stronger,” he admits. This was the biggest financial expense of the company so far. “I knew it would be a challenge to get it. We knew some big players were interested, but we were aggressive in it. Our whole team loved it. We felt we should go to this particular film in this market. It wasn’t just about money, we were already thinking about creative ways to express it and the potential for rewards. “

The buyer and his team met the filmmakers, the sellers, and “obsessed with it until we stopped.” “This is my MO. I really don’t wait for the review to come before the chase, “he told us.

Featuring graphic sexuality and violence, the film garnered visible reactions from critics. “I understand that,” he says. “I do not mind the polarization response: this is the purpose of the film. I admire a film that is divisive and creates a cultural dialogue. “

Wild bunch

Despite the expected R-rating, the film is expected to be Utopia’s widest release to date. “We want to bring it to as many viewers as possible and make sure it’s a movie that everyone is talking about this year and next,” he says.

How wide can it go? “It’s hard to put a number on it now but that means we’re going to have a PR campaign with our regular marketing partner Ryan Warner. That means creating a festival and awards campaign and digging up marketing materials. We will platform in a traditional theatrical way Parasites Level film. “

Abbasi whose last picture Border On the way to two Oscar nominations in 2018, Cannes won the Uncertan Regard category, collaborating with the company: “I’m really looking forward to working with a great team at Utopia, a company that is interested in movies that take risks and don’t compromise.”

Utopia recently had private investment, which allowed it to make some big changes, Dijiacomo tells us.

“More investments are coming in the company. Private investors are helping us make a big difference on the acquisition front and promise some P&A spending. ”

Release Spirit Award winners have been included since the date Shiva baby By Emma Seligman; Dasha Nekrasova’s Berlinle premiere The Curry of Sixty First; Ear and NYFF selection Whirlpool By Gaspar Noé; And Lena Dunham’s follow-up Small furniture, Sharp stick.

“Despite the many things that happened during Covid’s time, we have grown rapidly. Filming by Gaspar Noe Whirlpool The last ear was a great next step for us. The film is now being released and we see that the audience for the movie is in its 20s. We are thrilled by the fancy, innovative films that will take people to the theaters. There are many pictures that need to be seen on the big screen. Do well Holy spider But on the big screen and streaming, it’s a movie that many people will benefit from watching on the big screen. “

In terms of neon comparisons, the former Orchard executive added: “It’s flattering to hear that and we’re honored to be able to speak that way. We are ambitious about creating a cultural dialogue, about tapping with a young audience and also showing off female directors. We have room for growth. We have launched our original strand and we are diversifying our business into production. ”

Upcoming projects for Utopia Originals include a partnership with Norman Reedus’ bigbaldhead Productions and Sout! Studio for a Sorority House genocide TV series, based on the cult movie of the same name.

The company is circulating a couple of “very different titles” in the Uncertain Regard Strand.

Holy spider Produced by Sol Bondi (The story) And Jacob Zarek (Don’t say anything bad) Production companies are Profile Picture and One to Film, and co-producers are Nordisk Film Productions, Wild Bunch International, Film I Vest, Ken Knot Productions, ZDF / ARTE and RTE France Cinema.

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