Exclusive Releasing, FilmDistrict team for ‘Austenland’ bid

Companies would split worldwide rights 50/50; deal expected today

EXCLUSIVE: Exclusive Releasing and FilmDistrict are closing on a deal to acquire rights to Jerusha Hess’ “Austenland,” which the companies would team to split 50/50 worldwide.

The deal is not expected to make until Monday, when “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer, who made “Austenland” her producing debut, arrives in Park City to sign. Meyer produced the pic through her Fickle Fish Films banner along with Gina Mingacci, while Dan Levinson and Robert Fernandez exec produced for Moxie Pictures.

Keri Russell stars alongside JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Seymour. Author Shannon Hale, whose book serves as the basis for the film, co-wrote the script with “Napoleon Dynamite” scribe Hess.

Variety’s review said “Austenland” features “brisk pacing, a game cast, numerous throwaway chuckles, a good-natured air and nice visual packaging” and called it “one of this year’s most clearly commercial Sundance entries.”

UTA negotiated the sale on behalf of the filmmakers.

Exclusive Media co-chairmen Nigel Sinclair and Guy East launched Exclusive Releasing during the Toronto International Film Festival with plans to theatrically distribute between three and four wide and platform releases per year, including Exclusive Media-produced films and third-party titles. The new company also plans to acquire films for accelerated-window and VOD releases, along with developing and acquiring alternative content like concert films and music documentaries.

In September, Exclusive Media also acquired a minority stake in Millennium Entertainment, which gives it access to Millennium’s home entertainment distribution systems to supplement Exclusive Releasing’s infrastructure.