Duo close deal on ‘Conspirator’

Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions pact for pic

Lionsgate and specialty partner Roadside Attractions have closed a deal for all U.S. rights to Robert Redford’s Lincoln assassination drama “The Conspirator,” toplining Robin Wright and James McAvoy.

“Conspirator” is the first film from Joe Ricketts’ American Film Co., a producing and financing venture formed last year. Ricketts, a passionate history buff, is founder of Ameritrade and owner of the Chicago Cubs. Investors in the pic are putting up much of the marketing spend in return for higher returns on the period piece, which Roadside will release next year. Lionsgate has a stake in Roadside.

Deal — announced by Lions-gate prexy of acquisitions and co-productions Jason Constantine, and Roadside Attractions co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff — was in the works coming into Toronto, where “Conspirator” made its world premiere earlier in the week. CAA, which reps domestic rights, had pre-screened it for certain buyers.

As part of the agreement, Epix, the premium entertainment channel, video-on-demand and online service, will hold the exclusive premium pay TV window distribution rights to the film.

“Conspirator” was the second CAA-repped title sold to a U.S. buyer on Wednesday after James Wan’s genre pic “Insidious.” Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions picked up all domestic rights to the film, which played at Toronto Tuesday evening.

There was heated speculation as to whether “Conspirator” would make an awards run this year. But that would have meant finding a release date on a crowded calendar and quickly launching a marketing campaign. Waiting until next year gives “Conspirator” more elbow room.

From a script by James Solomon, “Conspirator” tells the true story of the only woman charged in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln and the young attorney forced to defend her. Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood, Tom Wilkinson and Alexis Bledel also star.

“There are few American directors as gifted in cinematic storytelling as Robert Redford,” Cohen said. “And with ‘The Conspirator,’ he has chosen a fascinating, little-known tale that illuminates a new perspective on a turning point of history.”

Producers are Greg Shapiro, Brian Falk, Robert Stone and Bill Holderman. Ricketts exec produced with Jeremiah Samuels and Webster Stone.

CAA, which represents Redford, Wright, Wood, Bledel, and Long, and Steve Monas of Business Affairs Inc., brokered the deal on behalf of the American Film Co. with Constantine of Lionsgate and Cohen and attorney Greg Bernstein on behalf of Roadside.