‘Tree’ grows in Par’s specialized orchard

Paramount Pictures continues its foray into specialized distribution with “The Education of Little Tree,” which debuts Dec. 5 in exclusive runs in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. The picture goes wider Jan. 9.

The coming-of-age story, about a half-Cherokee boy in the 1930s, was written and directed by Richard Friedenberg, and stars James Cromwell, Graham Greene and Tantoo Cardinal.

No wide releases are scheduled for Dec. 5, which historically has been a slow moviegoing day. However, Miramax’s much-anticipated Gus Van Sant-helmed “Good Will Hunting” opens exclusively in New York and L.A., as do a handful of specialized titles.

“Little Tree” will be the second specialized release for the studio this year, following the modestly successful “Kiss Me, Guido,” another acquisition which cumed $1.9 million in its July 18 platform run.

Paramount picked up domestic and international rights (exclusive of Spain) to “Little Tree” from producer Jake Eberts at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The film is based on the best-selling book of the same name by Forrest Carter, published in 1976.

The book was originally billed as a memoir of its young protagonist, who learns to love nature and the Cherokee way from his Native American grandparents. However, the book’s many fans were later shocked by allegations that Carter, who died in 1979, was actually Asa Carter, a white supremacist and speechwriter for George Wallace.

With reports from Leonard Klady

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