Ratner driving force in deal; Universal to release

Relativity Media’s Rogue Pictures has picked up North American and U.K. rights to Sundance Film Fest docu “Catfish” for release later this year through Universal. Brett Ratner, a driving force in the deal, is an exec producer.

Pricetag was a hefty $1.5 million, plus a significant marketing commitment. CAA’s indie film group brokered the pact.

“Catfish,” a lightning rod at Sundance for its unique examination of human relationships in the age of social networking, also drew the interest of Paramount and two of its producers, J.J. Abrams and Jason Blum.

Par had a test screening on the Melrose Lot Tuesday night. Film drew strong scores.

However, Paramount wasn’t willing to match the dollar offer agreed to by Relativity. Par instead had proposed the same sort of inexpensive viral marketing campaign used last fall to launch micro-budgeted horror pic “Paranormal Activity,” which became one of the most profitable films of all time at the box office.

From filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, “Catfish” tells the story of a New York photographer who develops an Internet relationship with a family who aren’t who they say they are.

Producers are Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling. Exec producers are Ratner and Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh and Tucker Tooley.

Rogue, targeting younger generations, has an output deal with Universal. U is Rogue’s former home.

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