Sony Classics nabs ‘West of Memphis’

Berg doc details investigation that led to trio's release

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired worldwide rights to Amy Berg’s docu about the West Memphis Three, “West of Memphis,” which was produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, as well as first-time producers Damien Echols and Lorri Davis.

Pic, which debuted at Sundance, chronicles the new investigation surrounding the West Memphis Three, which ultimately broke the case open and led to the freedom of three innocent men: Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr.

Berg’s film examines the flawed police investigation into the 1993 murders of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, and reveals details of Echols’ fight to save his life while sitting on death row for 18 years.

SPC negotiated the deal with Jackson and Walsh’s manager, Ken Kamins, who also serves as the film’s exec producer.

“In 2009, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Lorri Davis approached me to make a film which documented the defense’s battle to overturn the guilty verdicts in the case of the West Memphis Three,” said Berg. “After spending more than two years on the ground filming in Arkansas, the blatant injustice of the case was very apparent; my hope is that ‘West of Memphis’ will lead to full exoneration for Damien, Jason and Jessie. In addition, I hope the film will serve as a platform for a broader discussion about the failures of our criminal justice system nationwide. I’m very excited for this powerful story to be making its way to theaters and know that having Sony Pictures Classics as our partner is the surest way to catapult our film to the widest possible audience.”

“We are very proud to be partnering with Sony Pictures Classics on the release of ‘West of Memphis,'” added Walsh and Jackson. “We have been working with Lorri Davis, Damien Echols and his defense team for the past seven years, and during that time we came to understand that this was not just a story of a terrible injustice; it’s also a story about hope; about how two people found each other, saved each other, and loved each other through the hardest of times. This is Damien and Lorri’s film, and we are very excited to share it with the world.”

“We are honored that Sony Pictures Classics will be working with us to bring ‘West of Memphis’ to the world,” said Davis and Echols. “We are excited and quite frankly overwhelmed at the chance to tell our own story. Working with Fran, Peter and Amy has been the most powerful and fulfilling of experiences for us. We see this film as a source of inspiration, and it carries our heart and soul with it.”

“With ‘Deliver Us From Evil,’ Amy Berg became a major documentary filmmaker. Seeing ‘West of Memphis’ at Sundance, we felt Amy had outdone herself with this extraordinary anatomy and investigation of injustice,” said a statement from Sony Pictures Classics. “We look forward to collaborating with her and producers Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Damien Echols and Lorri Davis in bringing this exciting and important drama to audiences everywhere.”