Fox Searchlight has ‘Heart’

Deal came in on last day of L.A. Film Fest

Fox Searchlight has snapped up theatrical rights in North America to the docu “Young @ Heart,” about a Massachusetts seniors chorus that covers tunes ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Coldplay.

Deal, with a minimum guarantee of just under $2 million, came down on Sunday, the closing day of the Los Angeles Film Festival, where “Young” won the international feature audience prize.

Other banners in the running for the docu included Warner Independent and Overture.

“Young” is helmed by Brit Stephen Walker and produced by his wife Sally George under their WalkerGeorge Films banner. Pic was originally commissioned by Blighty’s Channel 4 for its digital weblet More4, where it first aired last year. It then aired in a primetime slot on terrestrial Channel 4. LAFF was “Young’s” first film festival unspooling.

“Young @ Heart is everything one could want in a moviegoing experience: surprising, moving, enlightening, and entertaining. We couldn’t be more honored to have this film as Searchlight’s first documentary in over a decade,” said Fox Searchlight chief operating officer and marketing chief Nancy Utley.

Searchlight has penciled in a spring 2008 release date.

William Morris Independent’s Rena Ronson repped the pic’s Stateside deal.

Universal-based Working Title Films optioned feature remake rights to “Young” a month ago. WalkerGeorge will produce along with Working Title’s Eric Fellner. Walker noted they’re currently in discussions with screenwriters.

In other LAFF news, Cinema Management Group has acquired international sales rights to “Owl and the Sparrow,” winner of the fest’s audience award for narrative feature.

Pic, directed and written by Saigon-born Stephane Gauger, centers on a 10-year-old who escapes her factory job and heads for Saigon, where she assembles a makeshift family. Pic was shot in and around Saigon.

“Owl,” exec produced by Timothy Bui and Ham Tran, also won the narrative feature award at the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival.

Deal was negotiated by producer’s rep Nguyen “Wyn” Tran and CMG topper Edward Noeltner.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)

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