HBO nabs U.S. rights on ‘Polanski’

Weinsteins to handle doc's international distrib

HBO Documentary has bought all U.S. domestic rights to “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” a film by writer-director-producer Marina Zenovich in the fest’s docu competition and the current buzz title of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Weinstein Co. purchased international rights shortly after the film made its world premiere Friday night. The issue of a theatrical release has yet to be resolved, but HBO Documentary topper Sheila Nevins tends not to embrace the theatrical market. Picturehouse prexy Bob Berney would be happy to release the film if Nevins were to take that route, he said.

“Wanted and Desired” revisits the events three decades ago when Polish-born director Roman Polanski was convicted of unlawful intercourse with a minor, spent 42 days in prison, and fled into exile from the U.S. The film explores how the case affected both victim and perpetrator while addressing larger issues about the media, celebrity and the U.S. legal system. Polanski’s attorney Douglas Dalton speaks out on the case for the first time. The film is executive produced by Steven Soderbergh and Randy Wooten and produced by Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Lila Yacoub.

The deal came down Saturday night, with HBO and Magnolia Pictures vying for the rights. Submarine Entertainment and Cinetic Media repped the filmmakers in the sale.

Weinstein Co. picked up foreign rights Friday night for six figures. Harvey Weinstein figures he’ll have Polanski to work with in seven countries, including his home-base, France, where he has his own sub-distribution.