Lions Gate blessed with ‘Jesus’

Alliance Atlantis snags int'l distrib

Lions Gate Films has acquired the North American distribution rights to Evenstar Films’ “Jesus’ Son” while Alliance Atlantis Communications has snatched up the international distribution rights.

Based on Denis Johnson’s collection of short stories, “Jesus’ Son” stars Billy Crudup (“Inventing the Abbotts”) and the ensemble cast of Samantha Morton (“Under the Moon”), Holly Hunter, Dennis Hopper and Denis Leary.

The film was directed by Alison MacLean (“Crush”).

Pic, produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher, Elizabeth Cuthrell and Davis Urrutia and penned by Evenstar’s Cuthrell, Urrutia and Oren Moverman, will play at the Telluride, Venice and Toronto film festivals.

Set amid the drug subculture of the 1970s, “Jesus’ Son” tells the story of a young man (played by Crudup) who journeys from drug addiction and petty crime to a life redeemed by discovering the capacity for compassion.

Said Lions Gate co-prexy Mark Urman: “We loved the movie so much. It has a grand poetic vision that succeeds. We also like the challenges and opportunities it presents to us from a marketing point of view.”

Lions Gate co-prexy Tom Ortenberg added: ” ‘Jesus’ Son’ is both funny and touching, and Billy Crudup gives a performance that can’t help but make him a star.”

Alliance Atlantis’ Mark Horowitz said: ” ‘Jesus’ Son’ fits in perfectly with our profile.”

Alliance was the distributor of such indie films as “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” “The Sweet Hereafter,” “In the Company of Men” and “Crash.”

Lions Gate last year distributed “Gods and Monsters” (winner of the adapted screenplay Oscar) and “Affliction” (for which James Coburn won an Oscar for supporting actor). The indie company recently wrapped production on “American Psycho,” Mary Harron’s adaptation of the novel, starring Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon and Willem Dafoe.

Alliance’s end of the pact was negotiated by Charlotte Mickie and Andrea Wood while Urman and Ortenberg negotiated on behalf of Lions Gate.

Evenstar’s pact with both Alliance and Lions Gate was handled by ICM in conjunction with Epstein, Levinsohn, Bodine, Hurwitz and Weinstein.

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