In the first-ever such deal for an indie film production, NBC News’ “Dateline” has acquired the North American rights to air the docu feature “Deadline” during a two-hour primetime special this summer.
A captivated NBC chair-CEO Bob Wright spotted the documentary when it premiered in competition at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and personally approached the filmmakers following the screening.
Unusual pickup underscores the way in which prime doc forums, such as Sundance, have moved considerably higher on the acquisitions radar, both for theatrical distribs and television buyers.
“Deadline” recounts the unprecedented decision by Illinois Gov. George Ryan to pardon all death row inmates during his final days in office.
Doc was directed by Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson and produced by Chevigny and Dallas Brennan for Big Mouth Prods. in association with the nonprofit Arts Engine Inc.
NBC News deal was rumored to be in the six figures.
A spokeswoman for “Dateline” said a firm airdate has not been set. Doc could also air in repeats on Peacock properties MSNBC and Bravo.
“This is an important collaboration that I am hopeful will have implications for independent media makers everywhere,” Chevigny said.