Mayfair in ‘Hurricane’

Helmer's debut hooks U.K. firm for int'l rights

PARK CITY, Utah – Mayfair Entertainment has acquired all international rights to 27-year-old filmmaker Morgan J. Freeman’s “Hurricane” for what sources familiar with the deal estimate to be more than $1 million. The writer-director’s debut depicts a teenager’s descent from petty to serious crime and stars “Welcome to the Dollhouse’s” Brendan Sexton III.

“Hurricane” was widely viewed as a gritty, urban pic with little foreign appeal. But now that the Manhattan-set drama has fetched a healthy fee for all rights minus the United States and Canada, the domestic sale should be easy sledding. The pic’s budget was just under $1 million.

Several U.S. distributors have already expressed interest in “Hurricane,” which Freeman produced with Galt Niederhoffer and Gill Holland. Several record labels have expressed interest in the soundtrack, which boasts an acoustic version of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”

Independent film vets L.M. Kit Carson and Cynthia Hargrave executive produced the project. Mayfair is the London-based sales company that is part of the Mayfair Group. And the pickup – which was done by Mayfair’s director of acquisitions Bobby Allen and U.S. acquisitions exec Karry Rock – is their calling card to U.S. indies, a way of saying they plan on getting into this corner of the biz .

“My hope is that this opens the door for me to continue making independent films and working with people I like but at a slightly bigger budget,” Freeman said. “I’m just thrilled that people will get to see our film.”

‘Dollhouse’ tie

Freeman, who is no relation to the actor, grew up in California and is currently in film school at New York University. He worked as an assistant director on Solondz’s “Welcome to the Dollhouse” and became friends with Sexton, for whom he wrote the lead role in “Hurricane.”

Freeman has another script ready to go. The project deals with a tourist family trapped in a quarantined Southwestern town. He was repped on the deal by his attorney at Rudolph & Beers, Jed Alpert.

Producer’s debut

“Hurricane,” which is being sold by the William Morris Agency’s Cassian Elwes and 3 Arts Entertainment’s Daniel Rappaport, also marks the debut of Niederhoffer as a producer. The 21-year-old Harvard University dropout is in the process of finishing her own directorial debut, “Myth America.” Niederhoffer’s pic is, as she puts it, “a satire of urban mythology and neo-feminist philosophy.” The cast includes Rashida Jones, Justin Pierce, Eric Moebius, Galaxy Craze and Ally Sheedy. Cary Woods and Kathy Conrad are exec producing that film, which screens for distributors in February.

In other acquisition news, the worldwide rights on Finn Taylor’s “Dream with the Fishes” sold to Lakeshore Entertainment for a seven-figure sum.

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