Sony Classics plunges into ‘Steep’

Studio acquires documentary on extreme skiing

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired “Steep,” a docu about extreme skiing produced by several ABC News vets.

Pic, which played the Tribeca Film Festival this year, centers on a group that engages in a particularly dangerous form of backcountry skiing. Pic was shot over two winters, as featured athletes took life-threatening risks in search of the perfect slope and moves.

“In a way it’s not even a movie about skiing,” said longtime ABC News producer Tom Yellin, who exec produced the movie. “It’s about a group of people who pursue greatness at the top of their field no matter what the risk is.”

Mark Obenhaus directed, and Josh Braun’s Submarine Entertainment handled the sale.

SPC is eyeing late 2007 for the theatrical opening.

“Steep” was produced by High Ground Prods. in association with the Documentary Group, a nonfiction shingle run by Peter Jennings’ widow, Kayce Jennings, and award-winning news producers Yellin and Richard Robbins.

Company had produced Bob Woodruff special “To Iraq and Back,” which garnered buzz and ratings for ABC earlier this year, as well as Iraq-soldier pic “Operation Homecoming,” Firm has what is essentially a first-look deal with ABC News but also plans on distributing movies theatrically in certain cases, Yellin said.

Sony Pictures Classics has previously released several extreme-sports docus, including surfing pic “Riding Giants” and breakout skateboard doc “Dogtown and Z-Boys.”

“Steep” may also get a television airing, with the Documentary Group retaining the first window of U.S. television rights.

“Steep” is second major acquisition out of Tribeca; “Autism: The Musical” was bought by HBO earlier this month.

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