HBO takes on ‘Project Nim’

Cabler will televise doc and seek distribution in theaters

Business has been unusually active leading up to the Sundance Film Festival, with TV rights to “Project Nim” being snapped up by HBO among the TV and theatrical deals already sealed.

A&E and Sony Pictures Classics also made early moves Tues-day on fest films, picking up “Corman’s World” and dramatic competition entry “Take Shelter,” respectively.

HBO picked all domestic rights to documentary “Project Nim,” and plans a six-month theatrical window before bowing it on TV.

“Nim,” directed by James Marsh and produced by Simon Chinn, who previously teamed on doc “Man on Wire,” will premiere in Sundance’s World Cinema documentary competition.

It tells the story of a historic experiment to try to teach a chimpanzee language while raising the primate like a human child.

HBO has acquired U.S. theatrical, video and broadcast rights for the pic and said it will pursue a theatrical and DVD distribution deal while at Sundance, working with Submarine Entertainment and Icon Entertainment Intl.

According to Submarine’s Josh Braun, who brokered the deal, HBO had been aware of the project from its early development stage, because Marsh and Chinn came to the cabler for initial financing.

“We weren’t out there shopping the film to buyers,” Braun said.

“It wasn’t what we planned, but we’re really happy with how it turned out.”

HBO Documentary Films (headed by prexy Sheila Nevins), BBC Films, Red Box Films, Passion Pictures and the U.K. Film Council have credits on the documentary.

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