Neon Buys Hot Sundance Doc ‘Spaceship Earth’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Fresh off its Oscar victory for “Parasite,” Neon has acquired worldwide rights to “Spaceship Earth,” an acclaimed documentary about the construction of a biosphere. The film had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the grand jury prize.

Neon was an active buyer at the festival, partnering with Hulu in a record-breaking bid to buy “Palm Springs,” a comedy with Andy Samberg, as well as nabbing “Shirley,” a drama with Elisabeth Moss.

“Spaceship Earth” uses archive material and present-day interviews with surviving “biospherians,” following a group of counter-cultural visionaries who, in 1991, built an enormous replica of earth’s ecosystem called Biosphere 2. The hope had been to build a self-sustaining living enclosure that could have futuristic applications. When eight “biospherians” went to live sealed inside the airtight Arizona desert vivarium, they faced ecological calamities and cult accusations. “Spaceship Earth” was directed by Matt Wolf and backed by Impact Partners, RadicalMedia and Stacey Reiss Productions. Reiss and Wolf produced the film.

The film enjoyed a strong critical reception. In a positive review, Variety‘s Dennis Harvey wrote, “‘Spaceship Earth,’ whose fascinating story loses nothing for taking a full hour in getting to the actual two-year experiment, has the excitement and involvement of a fictive sci-fi narrative.”

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Tom Quinn and Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal for Neon. Cinetic Sales Group represented the filmmakers. Neon is still riding high after it stunned prognosticators by sweeping the major Oscar categories with “Parasite,” the hit South Korean thriller that won four Academy Awards including best picture and best director

Executive producers on “Spaceship Earth” are RadicalMedia’s Jon Kamen, Dave Sirulnick, and Stanley Buchthal, Impact Partners’ Dan Cogan, Jenny Raskin and Geralyn White Dreyfous, Paula Froehle, Steve Cohen, Pierre Hauser, Nion McEvoy, Leslie Berriman, Lessing Stern, Andrea van Beuren and Sarah Johnson.

Wolf’s previous feature documentaries include “Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell,” about the cult cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell; “Teenage,” a look at early youth culture; and “Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project,” the story of the activist Marion Stokes, who recorded television 24 hours a day for 30 years.

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