Gets U.S. distrub rights to Steve McQueen's provocative drama

TORONTO Fox Searchlight has snapped up U.S. distribution rights to Steve McQueen’s provocative drama “Shame,” which preemed at Venice and then Telluride this week.

Pic, which toplines Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, is produced by See-Saw Films’ Iain Canning and Emile Sherman.

Deal, which had a number of buyers circling including the Weinstein Co. and Sony Pictures Classics, is one of the first major titles to be snapped up here in Toronto.

McQueen, whose first feature “Hunger” also toplined Fassbender, co-wrote the script with Abi Morgan, which follows a 30-something man who shuns intimacy with women but feeds his desires with a compulsive addiction to sex. When his wayward younger sister moves into his Gotham apartment, it triggers memories of their shared painful past.

“Fox Searchlight contacted us immediately after the screening in Telluride to tell us how much they loved the film,” said Canning and Sherman in a statement. “Their approach to marketing and distributing the film this year was incredibly detailed and impressive. We are excited to be working with them on a film that is sparking debate and a strong emotional reaction to audiences.”

HanWay Films is handling international sales. Tessa Ross, Robert Walak, Peter Hampden and Tim Haslam are exec producers with Bergen Swanson as co-producer.

Fox Searchlight’s exec veep of worldwide acquisitions Tony Safford, senior veep of business affairs Megan O’Brien, vice prexy of acquisitions Ray Strache brokered the deal with Thorsten Schumacher and Claire Taylor of HanWay Films.

In a foretelling maneuver earlier this week, Fox Searchlight moved up “The Descendants” from Nov. 23 to Nov. 18, giving “Shame” more room for a planned year-end release. Searchlight now has a total of four pics through the end of the year, starting with Kenneth Lonergan’s “Margaret” on Sept. 30, followed by Sundance pickup “Martha Marcy May Marlene” on Oct. 21 and “The Descendants.”

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