Toronto: Paramount Buys Charlie Kaufman’s ‘Anomalisa’

Paramount Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to “Anomalisa,” the stop-motion film from directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson.

The purchase follows screenings at film festivals in Telluride, Toronto and Venice. Domestically, the film will be released on Dec. 30, 2015 in New York and Los Angeles, making it eligible for awards consideration.

Kaufman, who penned “Being John Malkovich” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” is a big draw with cinephiles. “Anomalisa” marks Kaufman’s first foray into stop-motion animation. Co-director Johnson is perhaps best known for overseeing “Community’s” 2010 animated Christmas episode.

It marks Paramount’s second major purchase at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Last weekend the studio bought U.S. rights to biopic “Florence Foster Jenkins,” starring Meryl Streep and directed by Stephen Frears.

Last year, the studio was particularly aggressive, snapping up Chris Rock’s “Top Five” for $12.5 million. Despite a strong reception at Toronto, however, the comedy was a box office disappointment when it debuted last year.

“Anomalisa” centers on an inspirational speaker who checks into a bizarre hotel. It has earned strong reviews.

“As when Wes Anderson dabbled in stop-motion for ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox,’ it’s a strange medium in which to find a perfectionist,” wrote Variety’s Peter Debruge. “But that’s life, which, ironically, Kaufman and company seem to have done a fine job of conjuring in this most artificial of formats.”

The film was partially funded via a Kickstarter campaign and is a Starburns Industries, Snoot Entertainment production. The voice cast includes Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan and David Thewlis.

CAA and WME Global brokered the deal with Erik Hyman of Loeb & Loeb on behalf of the filmmakers. The studio’s negotiating team was lead by Paramount Senior Vice President of Acquisition and Production Eben Davidson and Senior Vice President of Business Affairs David Miercort. Hanway Films handled international sales.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Charlie Kaufman directed “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

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