YouTube inked a pact with Roadside Attractions to release “Viper Club,” Maryam Keshavarz’s drama starring Susan Sarandon, in U.S. theaters this fall — as Google sets its sights on a potential Oscar or Golden Globes win.
The film will debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (which runs Sept. 6-18) and will be released in theaters on Oct. 26, 2018. “Viper Club” will become available on YouTube Premium, the $9.99 subscription service, in 2019.
It’s the first YouTube original film to get a theatrical release. Roadside hasn’t set specific rollout plans for “Viper Club” (only in the U.S.) but the film will be positioned to take advantage of the awards-season corridor.
The film was previously called “Vulture Club” and the name was changed to “Viper Club” in the last few weeks. Asked why the title changed, a YouTube rep said only that the former was a working title.
Co-written by Keshavarz and Jonathan Mastro, “Viper Club” tells the story of Helen (Sarandon), a veteran ER nurse secretly struggling to free her adult son, a foreign war correspondent, from capture by a terrorist group. After being stymied by government bureaucrats, she discovers a covert community of journalists and advocates who might be able to help her.
Headlined by Oscar-winner Sarandon, “Viper Club” co-stars Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie,” “The Sopranos”) and Matt Bomer (“The Normal Heart,” “Magic Mike”), along with Lola Kirke (“Mistress America,” “Gone Girl”), Adepero Oduye (“The Big Short,” “12 Years a Slave”), Sheila Vand (“Argo,” “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”) and Julian Morris (“Pretty Little Liars,” “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House”), who plays Helen’s son Andy.
“Viper Club” is Keshavarz’s second feature film following “Circumstance,” a drama depicting a lesbian relationship in present-day Tehran. “Circumstance, which also was released by Roadside, won the audience award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
“Viper Club” was produced by Anna Gerb, Neal Dodson, and J.C. Chandor, the filmmaking team behind “Margin Call” and “All Is Lost” (both released by Roadside) as well as “A Most Violent Year.” Roadside Attractions co-founder Howard Cohen negotiated the deal with YouTube for theatrical distribution.
“Susan Sarandon’s emotional, tour de force performance anchors ‘Viper Club,'” Roadside’s Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff said in a statement. “It’s a compelling, timely story brilliantly captured and told by Maryam, and we are excited to be partnering with YouTube to bring the film to theaters this fall.”
“Susan Sarandon immediately drew us into this emotional drama, and Maryam Keshavarz lends her unique perspective as an Iranian-American filmmaker,” added Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original content. “The extremely talented cast delivered powerful performances, and we are thrilled to debut this film at the Toronto International Film Festival and partner with Roadside to bring the film to theaters this fall.”
YouTube Premium (formerly called YouTube Red) offers access to YouTube’s original series and movies, plus unlimited access to streaming music and ad-free videos across all of YouTube. The service, priced at $11.99 monthly, is currently available in 16 countries: the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K.