HBO has acquired the Tribeca buzz pic “Autism: The Musical” with plans for a limited theatrical run prior to its premiere on the net next year.
Sheila Nevins’ HBO Docs division bought the nonfiction film from Bunim-Murray Prods.’ newly formed BMP Films docu unit, headed by Sasha Alpert, who is also a producer on “Autism.”
Submarine Entertainment, the Gotham-based sales shingle run by sales agent Josh Braun, handled the sale together with Gil Goldschein and William Morris.
The Tricia Regan-helmed doc is actually not a musical; it centers on a group of five autistic children who are given the chance to explore their creativity by putting on a musical under the instruction of a pro acting coach.
Doc also examines struggles and triumphs of the children’s families.
“This is the first theatrical-length film about autism that is not depressing. It’s intimate and joyful,” Alpert said. “And it shows in a very honest way how difficult it is to raise a child with autism.”
The movie emerged from Tribeca last month with strong word of mouth; Variety called it “as riveting as it is revelatory.”
BMP Films said a portion of the film’s net proceeds will be donated to the Autism Speaks org.
Bunim-Murray, the nonscripted shingle known best for the “Real World” franchise, recently tapped Alpert to run its docu division, with “Autism” its first feature project. Company will provide finishing funds to theatrical projects in development or production.
“This movie is a perfect template for what we want to do,” Alpert said, noting that the movie explores a topical issue in the context of strong characters and narrative.
In addition to Alpert, Perrin Chiles is producer on “Autism,” while Joey Carson, Janet Grillo, David S. Glynn, Kristen Stills and Bunim-Murray’s Jonathan Murray are exec producing.
Braun is known as a documentary specialist who sold “My Kid Could Paint That” for nearly $2 million to Sony Pictures Classics at Sundance this year.
(Alpert is married to Daily Variety chief film critic Todd McCarthy.)