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‘Million Dollar Duck’ Doc Acquired by Animal Planet and Lionsgate

Slamdance documentary feature “The Million Dollar Duck” has been acquired by Discovery Communications’ Animal Planet and Lionsgate for distribution in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., the two companies announced Monday.

Animal Planet has acquired television rights to the film while Lionsgate will distribute “Million Dollar Duck” in a limited theatrical release and through digital home entertainment and packaged media. It will debut on Animal Planet in the fall after completing its theatrical run.

The film, which had its world premiere in the documentary feature competition at the Slamdance Film Festival on Sunday, follows six wildlife artists from different walks of life as they vie to win the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, the only art competition of its kind sponsored by the U.S. government. The doc is directed by Brian Golden Davis and executive produced by Mark Jonathan Harris and Richard Prager.

“From the moment I saw ‘Million Dollar Duck,’ I knew Animal Planet would be the perfect home for this heartfelt and humorous film,” said Rich Ross, Group President of Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel. “Showcasing this film brings to light this special program that supports wetlands conservation and aligns with our network’s goal to activate people on animal welfare concerns.”

“We’re proud to extend our strategic partnership with Discovery on this terrific film,” said Lionsgate President of Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution Jim Packer. “Poignant, quirky, hilarious and tremendously engaging, ‘Million Dollar Duck’ is the perfect property to kick off our alliance with Discovery on documentary films and other long-form content that creates tremendous opportunities for both our companies.”

“Some of the greatest docs ever made have been about either sub-cultures or competitions,” added John Hoffman, EVP Documentaries and Specials for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel. “Brian has brought these two genres together in a perfect way that makes us laugh and care. He’s made wildlife artists into superstars.”

“I’m thrilled to have ‘The Million Dollar Duck’ find a home with Animal Planet and Lionsgate,” said Golden Davis. “I made this film because I wanted to explore the quirky world of The Federal Duck Stamp Contest, where the artists were motivated by their sheer love of nature and conservation, and I can’t think of better platforms to help share our ‘duck tale’ with the world than Animal Planet and Lionsgate.”

The deal was negotiated by John Hoffman and Ryan Harrington on behalf of Discovery Communications, EVP Theatrical Acquisitions & Co-Productions Eda Kowan and acquisitions executive Lauren Freeman for Lionsgate, and Abby Davis and Adam Galen of Preferred Content on behalf of the filmmakers.

The acquisition further expands the partnership between the two companies; Discovery purchased a 3.4% stake in Lionsgate last November, and in December the congloms signed an exclusive long-term deal for Lionsgate to distribute Discovery programming across packaged media platforms in the U.S., beginning with “Racing Extinction.”

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