Magnolia Acquires the Roger Ebert documentary ‘Life Itself’

Life_Itself_652x367Apparently a little bit of a bidding war had broken out recently for the Steve James documentary Life Itself, which of course is about the beloved late film critic Roger Ebert. Today, it’s being reported that Magnolia Pictures has beaten out competitors like Oscilloscope Laboratories and The Weinstein Company and picked up the theatrical rights to the doc. It got tremendous reviews out of the Sundance Film Festival and is high up on my “to see list”, so I’m excited that a release (and presumably an awards campaign) is happening sooner rather than later. You can see the report below, and stay tuned for lots more about this flick, since it’s one that everyone in this industry can get behind. I expect to see Life Itself on a lot of year end Top Ten lists, mark my words…

Here’s the story from The Hollywood Reporter:

Magnolia Pictures has picked up the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, sources say.

Directed by Steve James (Hoop Dreams), the film made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered Jan. 19 at the MARC. In his review, THR’s Todd McCarthy called the documentary “engrossing, unflinching, moving and comprehensive … a three-dimensional portrait.”

The movie, which is based on the late Ebert’s memoir, was mostly filmed during the last five months of the iconic film critic’s life.

Zak Piper, James and Garrett Basch produced the film. Martin Scorsese, Steven Zaillian, Michael W. Ferro Jr., Gordon Quinn, Justine Nagan, Kat White and Mark Mitten executive produced. CNN Films’ Vinnie Malhotra and Amy Entelis also exec produced the title.

Magnolia beat out a number of suitors including IFC, Oscilloscope and The Weinstein Company. CNN already acquired TV rights to the documentary.

Life Itself marks the third Sundance title picked up by Magnolia. The distributor also nabbed the Michael Fassbender starrer Frank as well as Joe Swanberg’s Happy Christmas before the festival began.

Cinetic Media repped the filmmakers.

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!


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Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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