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In today’s film news roundup, AMC starts Artisan Films, Gravitas buys “Boy Genius,” Nesta Cooper gets cast opposite Salma Hayek and Rebel Road launches P12 as a distributor.

MARKETING MOVE

AMC Theatres is launching a new program, AMC Artisan Films, as a programming-marketing effort to put a spotlight on character and narrative driven movies as an alternative to blockbusters.

“Because AMC is the industry’s top choice for blockbuster movies, many consumers don’t realize that we play more elevated and celebrated films than anyone else in North America,” said Elizabeth Frank, executive vice president of worldwide programming. “With the launch of AMC Artisan Films, we aim to expose more movie-goers to specialized films and increase their theatrical success.”

Frank said AMC is seeking earlier runs in platform releases while holding films longer in the theater to give audiences time to learn about them from other customers.

Currently, AMC Artisan Films is focusing on Danny Boyle’s “Yesterday,” which opens Friday. Future titles will include “Midsommar,” “Blinded by the Light,” “Downton Abbey,” “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” “The Kitchen” and “Where’d You Go Bernadette.”

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ACQUISITION

Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to the family film “Boy Genius,” starring Rita Wilson, Zach Gilford, Tracie Toms, and Miles Brown, Variety has learned exclusively.

Directed by Bridget Stokes from a script by Vicky Wight, “Boy Genius” centers on a 12 year-old child prodigy (Brown) who teams up with a quirky retiree to solve a crime and save his family from splitting up. The film received the Jury Award for Best Family Film from the Bentonville Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Family Film at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

The film also stars Jackson Pace, Skylan Brooks, Ravi Patel, Arden Myrin, Nora Dunn and Miles Brown. Tony Piantedosi from Gravitas Ventures negotiated the deal with Six Foot Pictures on behalf of the filmmakers.

“Boy Genius” is due to hit theaters Sept. 6 and will be available on demand the same day.

CASTING

Nesta Cooper has joined Salma Hayek and Owen Wilson in Amazon Studios’ sci-fi drama “Bliss,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Mike Cahill is directing from his own script, which centers on a recently divorced man (Wilson) who meets Hayek’s character — a woman who lives on the streets and is convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is not real. Cooper will play the daughter of Wilson’s character who is concerned that her father’s life is falling apart

Cooper will also star in Apple TV+ original drama series “See” opposite Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard and has previously starred in the Netflix series “Travelers.” Cooper is repped by UTA, Industry Entertainment and Lauren Levitt & Associates.

DISTRIBUTOR LAUNCHES

Brian Presley and his Rebel Road Entertainment banner have launched distribution arm P12 Films.

Christian Sosa is president of domestic distribution and Jon Wroblewski has been hired as vice president of domestic distribution. Nancy Sanchez is head of distribution and marketing, and Miranda Florer has been hired as distribution and marketing coordinator.

The first project to be released under the new P12 banner will be “The Great Alaskan Race,” which Presley wrote, starred in, directed, and produced.  The film also stars Treat Williams, Bruce Davison, Brad Leland, Brea Bee, and Henry Thomas, and is scheduled to be released on Oct. 25.