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Tribeca kicks into gear with pick up

Lewis-produced film looks at '70s Greenwich Village

Lions Gate Films has acquired North American distribution rights to David Duchovny’s directing debut “House of D,” starring Duchovny, Robin Williams, Anton Yelchin and Tea Leoni, which premieres Friday at the Tribeca Film Festival. Acquisition officially kicks off industry activity at the event’s third edition.

Set and shot in New York City, pic is about the power of friendship, was written and directed by Duchovny, who stars as a man who looks back to his teen years in early 1970s Greenwich Village for keys to help resolve the turmoil in his present relationships.

Cast also features Frank Langella, Erykah Badu, Orlando Jones and Williams’ daughter Zelda Williams in her first major role.

“I really believe in this film, and it’s the film that I wanted to make,” Duchovny told Daily Variety. “But you never know how other people are going to respond until you go outside, so it’s just fantastic the way they have.”

Budgeted at less than $10 million, the film was produced by Richard Lewis, Tribeca fest co-founder Jane Rosenthal and Bob Yari. Zanne Devine, Adam Merrins and Jeff Skoll served as exec producers, with Melanie Greene as co-producer. Pic is a Southpaw Entertainment, Tribeca production, financed by Bob Yari Prods. and Jeff Skoll Prods.

“This is a very powerful piece,” Lewis said. “We literally finished mixing last Thursday and will see a wet print tomorrow so it’s all happening very quickly.” The “House” pickup represents an extension of Tribeca’s relationship with Lions Gate on “Stage Beauty,” a project the distrib inherited from Artisan. Also produced by Rosenthal and Tribeca partner Robert De Niro, the Richard Eyre-helmed period drama stars Billy Crudup, Claire Danes and Rupert Everett and will have its world premiere Sunday, closing night at the Tribeca fest. Lions Gate is planning a fall release and awards-season push.

Lions Gate Releasing president Tom Ortenberg, president of acquisitions, co-productions and television Peter Block and senior VP of acquisitions Jason Constantine were wrapping negotiations on the preemptive “House” deal Monday with Rick Hess of CAA; terms include a sizable print commitment from Lions Gate.

No release date has been set, but Duchovny hopes to open the film in fall. The actor-turned-filmmaker said he intends to continue pursuing writing and directing projects.

The deal represents the first major theatrical acquisition closed out of the infant Tribeca fest, which kicked off its third edition Saturday, running through Sunday.

Southpaw also has debuting writer-director Michael Clancy’s Sundance entry “Eulogy” due for fall release from Lions Gate. Like “Stage Beauty,” the comedy-drama came through the Artisan channel. It stars Ray Romano, Debra Winger, Hank Azaria, Zooey Deschanel, Famke Janssen and Kelly Preston.

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