Neon and 30WEST have nabbed domestic rights to “I, Tonya,” a dark comedy about Olympic skater Tonya Harding. The deal was signed out of the Toronto Film Festival, where the film premiered over the weekend. It is in the $5 million range.
The big draw here is star Margot Robbie, who plays Harding, a gold medal hopeful whose career was derailed after her ex-husband cooked up a scheme to hobble Nancy Kerrigan. There’s some chatter that Robbie could end up in the awards race, but other potential buyers who looked at the picture thought it had only limited commercial appeal. Netflix, CBS Films, and Annapurna had kicked the tires on the picture at various points in a bidding process that never got as hot as the agents and producers thought it would. CBS Films had bid $6 million prior to the screening, but lowered the bid to $2 million after the film showed, according to an insider.
In a positive notice, Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman praised the picture and the performances. “For a while, you may make the mistake of thinking that ‘I, Tonya’ is a joke: a blithe spoof of Tabloid Nation,” he wrote. “It is that, yet it’s also built around something piercingly sharp and sincere: Margot Robbie’s canny, live-wire, deeply sympathetic performance.”
Along with Robbie, Allison Janney stars as Harding’s mother and Sebastian Stan appears as Jeff Gillooly, Harding’s ex-husband. The film is directed by Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”) with a screenplay by Steven Rogers (“Love the Coopers”).
30WEST is a new venture founded by Micah Green, a former CAA agent, and entrepreneur Dan Friedkin. At Toronto, the company partnered with Cinetic to negotiate a deal to sell domestic rights Morgan Spurlock’s sequel to “Super Size Me” to YouTube Red.
Neon is the new indie label from Tom Quinn, the former head of Radius-TWC, and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League. The company’s “Borg/McEnroe,” with Shia LaBeouf as a hot-tempered John McEnroe, opened the festival. Its other releases include “Beach Rats,” “Ingrid Goes West,” and “Colossal.”
AI Films financed the project. CAA and UTA represented the “I, Tonya” filmmakers, while Vince Holden of AI Films brokered the deal. Sierra/Affinity is handling international rights and has already pre-sold many territories.