Duo scores rights to documentary
Picturehouse and New Line have acquired rights to “The King of Kong,” a documentary that premieres in competition at Slamdance tonight.Pic is about rivals battling for supremacy in vidgame Donkey Kong’ In a mid to high six-figure package deal, Picturehouse won rights to distribute the documentary in theaters this summer, while sister company New Line gets remake rights and control of docu distribution rights outside North America. New Line will fast-track a feature remake, with the original’s director Seth Gordon attached to helm the feature version and producer Ed Cunningham set as exec producer on the remake. Beau Bauman will be a producer on the remake. “The King of Kong” chronicles a rivalry between two gamers, Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, as they battle for the title of world champ of the arcade game. Picturehouse president Bob Berney, New Line Prods. prexy Toby Emmerich and chief operating officer Richard Brener found irresistible appeal in Wiebe’s struggle to stop a personal losing streak, and the ruthless tactics of record holder Mitchell, who routinely compares himself to Helen of Troy and the Red Baron. Angling for a remake deal, Endeavor Independent showed the film early to New Line, where Brener’s assistant Dave Neustadter coaxed his boss to watch it. Brener became obsessed, viewing the film more than 20 times and pressing Emmerich to be aggressive. They enlisted Berney, who decided the docu was compelling enough to work as a theatrical. “It’s brutal out there for documentaries, but these two gamer guys are so compelling, and the story gets so crazy and theatrical, that I think it has a strong shot to catch on,” Berney said.