TWC picks ‘Fruitvale’ at Sundance

Weinsteins plan theatrical release for the Park City crowdpleaser

The Weinstein Company is wrapping up a deal to acquire “Fruitvale,” a drama based on a tragic true story that was written and directed by 26 year-old USC grad Ryan Coogler.

Deal is worth between $2 million and $3 million and guarantees a sizable theatrical release, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

Michael B. Jordan (“Chronicle”) stars as Oscar Grant, a 22 year-old Bay Area resident who was gunned down on New Year’s Day of 2009 by BART officers at the Fruitvale subway stop. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) co-stars alongside Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand and Chad Michael Murray.

Pic, which premiered in competition on Saturday night at the MARC, also drew intense interest from Fox Searchlight and Paramount, whose prexy Adam Goodman personally screened the film on Sunday in Los Angeles. Crowdpleaser has garnered mostly positive reviews and has been whispered as a potential audience award winner. However, Variety’s review said that “even if every word of Coogler’s account of the last day in Grant’s life held up under close scrutiny, the film would still ring false in its relentlessly positive portrayal of its subject.”

Forest Whitaker produced “Fruitvale” with Nina Yang Bongiovi, while Michael Y. Chow exec produced. Spencer is among a trio of co-executive producers.

WME negotiated the deal, which was first reported on Deadline Hollywood, on behalf of the filmmakers.