On the heels of the surprisingly strong launch for Kevin Hart’s “Let Me Explain,” CodeBlack Films has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Forest Whitaker‘s thriller “Repentance” for release by Lionsgate in the early spring.
The film, which also stars Anthony Mackie, is part of the multiyear distribution deal announced last year between CodeBlack’s Jeff Clanagan and Lionsgate under which the studio was aiming to expand its already strong urban biz.
“Repentances” centers on a life coach (Mackie) who’s mysteriously abducted by a deranged client, played by Whitaker. Sanaa Lathan also stars. Philippe Caland directs from a script he co-wrote with Shintaro Shimosawa in a project produced by Whitaker’s Significant Studios.
“Let Me Explain” grossed $17.4 million at 876 theaters in its first five days and rang up the highest per-location average of films in wide release. Clanagan credited Hart’s promotional work and Lionsgate’s selection of venues for the box office success, adding, “The distribution plan worked like a charm.”
Clanagan also disclosed that the next CodeBlack-Lionsgate release will be coming of age story “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete,” starring Jennifer Hudson, Anthony Mackie, Jordan Sparks and Jeffery Wright, in the first quarter. Story centers on two inner city youths, who are left to fend for themselves over the summer after their mothers are taken away by the authorities.
“Mister,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, is directed by George Tillman Jr. with Alicia Keys exec producing.
CodeBlack is also producing Hart’s next project, “Quick and Easy,” which Lionsgate disclosed in April during its presentation at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. Clanagan is also prepping for the U.K. and Canadian releases of “Let Me Explain” in September.
Clanagan said the CodeBlack remains on track to produce two to three features per year across a variety of genres. “We wanted to give ourselves time to build up our infrastructure rather than rushing out titles,” he added.
Prior to signing its deal with Lionsgate, CodeBlack worked on standup comedy specials for Steve Harvey, Cedric The Entertainer and Mo’Nique along with theatrical releases including Lee Daniels’ “Shadowboxer” and Hart’s documentary “Laugh at My Pain.”
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Deal for “Repentance” was negotiated by Nina Yang Bongiovi on behalf of Significant Productions with Quincy Newell of Codeblack and Jean Chi and Greg Snodgrass on behalf of Lionsgate.