Lions Gate opens ‘Urbania’ after Unapix’s problems

Move comes just two weeks before Sept. 15 release

In a move worthy of a white knight, Lions Gate Films has picked up all U.S. rights to Jon Shear’s “Urbania” as intended distrib Unapix Films Theatrical faces cash flow problems that have forced the company to back away from the acquisition just two weeks before its Sept. 15 release.

“Urbania,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was adapted by Daniel Reitz from his own play “Urban Folk Tales” about a gay man’s search for redemption and love. The film, which stars Dan Futterman and Josh Hamilton, has won a number of festival awards, including the grand jury award for narrative feature at last month’s L.A. Outfest and grand prize at the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Unapix Films acquired the film in March and has been working on the film’s marketing and publicity campaign throughout the summer. Just last week, however, Unapix Entertainment chairman Herbert Pearlman informed Unapix Films topper Richard Abramowitz that the company would not have the funds to put the film into release.

Unapix Films, the theatrical arm of Unapix Entertainment that was just launched in March, has released one film to date: “Grass,” a documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson about the U.S. drug policy on marijuana.

Abramowitz said he has been told that the cash flow problems are temporary. “I’m delighted that Lions Gate will handle the film,” he said. “The film’s release was my highest concern.”

Said Lions Gate Releasing co-prexy Tom Ortenberg, “It would have been a shame if ‘Urbania’ went unreleased. People who had worked on this film for a long time would go undeservedly punished. We were always interested in the movie, but we faced a very crowded release slate.”

Lions Gate will release the film in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego on Sept. 15 and will expand from there into the top 25 markets and possibly beyond.

“I was very excited that there was a new player on the independent film scene, and I’m heartbroken that after all the work they put into this release, they won’t be able to enjoy the fruit,” said J. Todd Harris, who produced the film with Shear and Stephanie Golden. “Robert (Abramowitz) has gone out of his way to see that the film succeeds, (but) I’m incredibly relieved that a company as experienced and prominent as Lions Gate has been able to step in at the last minute.”

UTA and Harris repped the filmmakers in the deal.

More Film

  • Jennifer Lopez Owen Wilson

    Jennifer Lopez-Owen Wilson Film 'Marry Me' Moves Back to Universal From STX

    The Jennifer Lopez-Owen Wilson romantic comedy “Marry Me” has moved from STX back to its original home, Universal Pictures. STX previously took over the project in April. Kat Coiro is directing from a script written by John Rogers and Tami Sagher, with a rewrite by Harper Dill. Colombian singer/rapper Maluma has joined the cast and [...]

  • Austin Butler to Star as Elvis

    Austin Butler to Star as Elvis in Baz Luhrmann's Biopic

    Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic has found its king of rock ‘n’ roll. After numerous screen tests, Austin Butler has been tapped to play Elvis Presley in Luhrmann’s next feature film for Warner Bros. The studio tested with a handful of actors in full hair and make-up at the end of June to see who [...]

  • 'The King's Man' Trailer Debuts With

    'The King's Man' Trailer Showcases Secret Service's Origins

    Disney is promising plenty of sword-fighting, gunplay and devastation in its first teaser trailer for the Fox spy comedy prequel “The King’s Man.” The studio unveiled a first look Monday that sets the stage for an origin story of the private British  intelligence service, portrayed in the two previous films in the franchise: 2014’s “Kingsman: The [...]

  • Emma Stone Damien Chazelle Babylon

    Emma Stone Eyes Damien Chazelle's Next Film 'Babylon'

    “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle is heading back to Hollywood for his next feature film “Babylon,” and Emma Stone is in early talks to star. Sources say Chazelle has met with a handful of suitors over the past couple weeks, and Paramount and Lionsgate are both vying to land the project. While Chazelle previously [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez

    2019 Imagen Awards Nominations: Jennifer Lopez, Antonio Banderas and More

    Jennifer Lopez and Antonion Banderas are among this year’s Imagen Awards nominees, which span a range of categories including informational programming, on-air advertising, outstanding individual performances and prime time programming in film and television. The Imagen awards were first established in 1985 upon recommendation from TV veteran Normal Lear in an effort to recognize more [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content