Studio buys North American rights to pic
Miramax is boarding “Smart People,” one of the first productions from Michael London’s new Groundswell Prods. shingle.Disney unit is buying North American rights to the pic; Groundswell retains foreign rights, which QED Intl. are handling. Deal marks the first time Groundswell has secured distribution for one of its pics. Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church star in the romantic dramedy about a widowed professor, his new love interest and his recently surfaced adopted brother. Pic, which is in post, is directed by Noam Murro, a first-timer who’s attached to direct Warners’ “Strangers on a Train,” based on the same Patricia Highsmith novel that was the source for the Hitchcock classic. Mark Poirier penned the screenplay for “People.” Producers are London, Michael Costigan, Bridget Johnson, and Bruna Papandrea. Miramax topper Daniel Battsek said the company is eyeing a fall release and an award-season run for the movie, though he also feels the movie has broad commercial potential. Miramax was quiet at the recently closed Sundance Film Festival but has a busy slate this year: Company is releasing Lasse Hallstrom’s “The Hoax”; Anne Hathaway starrer “Becoming Jane”; and Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, “Gone, Baby, Gone.” London, who produced “The Family Stone,” “The Illusionist” and “Sideways,” formed Groundswell with the backing of two private equity film funds, Lexington Film Funding and Crescendo Film Capital. Groundswell also is producing “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” based on the Michael Chabon novel, and “The Visitor.” London was a producer on Sundance pic “King of California,” which First Look purchased.