“The Report,” a politically charged thriller about the CIA’s use of torture, has sold to Amazon Studios following its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Variety has learned. The price is in the $14 million range and the pact is for global rights.
The film focuses on Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) and tracks his investigation into the spy agency’s “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a euphemism if ever there was one that covers everything from water-boarding to sleep and sensory deprivation. Jones prepares a devastating 525-page report that helps shift public support against the CIA’s use of these methods in the years following 9/11. “The Report” earned raves and Oscar buzz for its performances, particularly that of Annette Bening as Senator Dianne Feinstein. The real Jones earned a standing ovation when he appeared in Park City, Utah for the premiere. Scott Z. Burns, who wrote the scripts for “Contagion” and “The Bourne Ultimatum,” directs from his own screenplay.
In an enthusiastic review, Variety’s Owen Gleiberman compared the movie to the best of ’70s filmmaking, a fertile time for paranoid classics such as “Three Days of the Condor” and “The Parallax View,” writing, “staging recent history, and making it convincing, isn’t easy. But Scott Z. Burns brings it all off with supreme confidence.”
Amazon is planning an awards push for the film and expects to release it in the fall of 2019. Negotiations for the film were frenzied with multiple players submitting bids. The talks stretched into the early morning hours on Monday and some deal points are still being finalized. UTA Independent Film Group and Endeavor Content negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers. Danny Gabai, EVP and head of Vice Studios U.S., and John Kulback, head of business affairs, negotiated on behalf of Vice. Eddy Morreti, founder of Unbranded Pictures, negotiated on behalf of the co-producer.
This is the second major acquisition out of the festival for Amazon, which previously picked up “Late Night,” a comedy with Mindy Kaling that sold in a huge $13 million U.S. rights deal. Burns produced along with frequent collaborator Steven Soderbergh. The producers include Jennifer Fox, Kerry Orent, Michael Sugar, Danny Gabai, and Eddy Moretti.
Amazon previously worked with Driver on “Paterson,” an acclaimed 2016 Jim Jarmusch drama.