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‘School’ makes grade

Newmarket will distrib 'Rock' doc

A correction was made to this article on July 1, 2004.

Newmarket has acquired worldwide rights to Don Argott’s docu “Rock School,” which follows a group of Philadelphia kids learning to become rock stars from a failed performer (Paul Green) with a tough-love teaching style.

Pic, which exhibits some uncanny similarities to Paramount’s recent comedy “The School of Rock,” starring Jack Black, reps the first doc acquisition for Newmarket as well as the U.S. distrib’s first worldwide rights deal.

“Docs really have to tell a story to be theatrical, and ‘Rock School’ does that,” Newmarket Films prexy Bob Berney said. “We felt the film would play everywhere because of the music, obviously, and the story. It transcends borders.”

No decisions have been made yet on how Newmarket will handle overseas distribution.

Berney and Newmarket’s L.A.-based acquisitions execs John Crye and Brittany Ballard saw the pic at its debut unspooling at the Los Angeles Film Festival, after which the “Rock School” students performed live covers of songs including the Doors’ “L.A. Woman.” Pic is the first major deal to emerge from this year’s fest, which ended Saturday.

In an unusual move, the IFP-run fest had added extra “Rock” screenings when the film started gaining acquisitions heat — in particular, one hosted by IFP’s New York chapter for Gotham buyers who hadn’t made the L.A. trek.

Newmarket Films aims to release the film in first quarter 2005.

“We’re trying to integrate the kids with the release in some form or fashion,” Berney added. “We’d like to coordinate a soundtrack and a tour of the kids and take the time to really work it.”

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