Jason Bateman Bad-Words_Toronto

Feature directorial debut for thesp

Focus Features has snapped up worldwide distribution rights to Jason Bateman’s directorial debut “Bad Words,” portending an active buying session at the Toronto Film Festival.

The deal was made at the Toronto on Saturday with an estimated price tag of $7 million with the transaction closing the day after the dark comedy premiered at the fest. CAA represented the filmmakers.

Focus plans to release “Bad Words” next year.

The indie, produced by Bateman’s 18-month-old Aggregate Films with Darko and MXN Entertainment, was shot over 29 days at the end of the year in Los Angeles. Bateman stars with Allison Janney, Phillip Baker Hall, Kathryn Hahn and Rohan Chand.

Justin Chang gave the film a strong review for Variety, writing “…this exuberantly foul-mouthed and mean-spirited comedy goes somewhat soft in the final stretch but remains an often uproarious model of sharp scripting and spirited acting, spelling vulgar-crowdpleaser status in theatrical and ancillary play.”

“Bad Words” cost under $10 million. Bateman plays a foul-mouthed high-school dropout who enters a national children’s spelling bee through a registration loophole.

“This is sort of the ‘Bad Santa’ of spelling bees,” Bateman told Variety in a recent interview.

The thesp-turned-director credited Andrew Dodge’s Black List script and his former agent Dan Aloni, who found the the script. “Andrew Dodge is the story editor at Sony so it’s as if the professor has finally written a script,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Toronto: Jason Bateman Speaks With ‘Bad Words’

Bateman is also a producer with Mason Novick of MXN and Darko’s Sean McKittrick and Jeff Culotta.

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