National Geographic nabs ‘Restrepo’

Pic won documentary grand jury prize at Sundance

National Geographic Entertainment has acquired domestic rights to “Restrepo,” which won the documentary grand jury prize at Sundance earlier this year.

Deal’s the first for National Geographic Films since former Miramax president Daniel Battsek came on board earlier this month as its new prexy. Battsek replaced Adam Leipzig, who ankled after half a dozen years in the post.

Set for release July 2, “Restrepo” is directed, produced and photographed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger and follows the deployment of a U.S. platoon in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley.

“This acquisition just continues what National Geographic’s been building as a brand that can be a significant player in independent films,” Battsek told Daily Variety. “It’s gotten a tremendous response from audiences and I think it can be expanded well beyond the normal audience for documentaries.”

“Restrepo” follows a trio of NGE acquisitions in the last year of “The Wildest Dream,” “Amreeka” and “Blue Man Group: Mind Blast.”

“Restrepo” is an Outpost Films Production in association with National Geographic Channel, which announced acquisition of worldwide TV rights earlier this year. Exec producers are John Battsek and Nick Quested.

The pic was shot between May 2007 and July 2008, when Hetherington and Junger dug in with a platoon of men from Battle Company, the Second Platoon of the 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

The outpost named Restrepo in honor of the platoon’s medic, PFC Juan “Doc” Restrepo, who was killed in action. The location lacked running water, Internet and phones, often had no electricity or heat and was attacked as many as six times a day.

National Geographic Channel will premiere “Restrepo” globally in the fall. National Geographic Films is in its second year of a joint venture with Imagenation Abu Dhabi to finance feature films, committing $100 million for 10-15 features over five years — giving Nat Geo the resources to acquire and distribute world film titles along with producing its own films.

Film deal was brokered by UTA.

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