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Sundance: HBO Films Acquires ‘Native Son’

HBO Films has acquired “Native Son” in advance of its Sundance Film Festival premiere on Thursday night.

The news is surprising because the adaptation of Richard Wright’s famous novel entered the festival with theatrical distribution. It was going to be released by A24. Instead, “Native Son” will debut on the premium cable channel at some point in 2019. The movie follows a young African-American man named Bigger Thomas who takes a job working for powerful Chicago family — a move that has tragic and unforeseen consequences.

“Native Son” marks visual artist Rashid Johnson’s filmmaking debut and was written for the screen by Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog/Underdog”). The cast includes Ashton Sanders, Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, KiKi Layne, Elizabeth Marvel, David Alan Grier, and Bill Camp. Bow + Arrow Entertainment financed and produced the movie.

A24 has previously collaborated with HBO on “2 Dope Queens” and the upcoming drama series “Euphoria.” At a time when the theatrical market for indie films is shrinking, the studio has shown a willingness to try new things. In November, A24 partnered with Apple to produce a slate of movies for the tech behemoth. Since 2013, it has partnered with DirecTV to jointly acquire pics.

A24’s credits include the Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” as well as the hits “Eighth Grade” and “Lady Bird.”

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