Gravitas Picks Up Rights to Family Comedy ‘The Present,’ Due on Digital and VOD June 18

Gravitas Ventures has acquired U.S. rights to the family comedy The Present and will release the film on digital and cable VOD on June 18.

In the film, when a brilliant boy discovers he can manipulate time using an enchanted family heirloom, he and his siblings team up to go back to the eve of their parents’ separation in hopes of changing the outcome. As their schemes become more elaborate, the siblings learn about family bonds and what they can and can’t control. In this magical comedy, Isla Fisher and Greg Kinnear play the parents in search of reconciliation, and Easton Rocket Sweda, Shay Rudolph and Mason Shea Joyce are the siblings who just might be the only people who can make that happen.

“I’m thrilled Gravitas will unveil The Present just in time for the summer holidays! Available on all major platforms, it will allow everyone and their families to have fun watching our on-screen family rise to the challenges of life, love, laughter — and time travel,” filmmaker Christian Ditter said in a statement .

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“We are so thrilled to be the domestic distribution partner for The Present. Greg Kinnear and Isla Fisher deliver a funny and heartfelt performance in this wonderful comedy — reminiscent of The Parent Trap,” Danielle Gasher, Gravitas Ventures’ VP of acquisitions and international sales, said in a statement.

Anthem Names Greg Drebin Head of Content and Marketing for AXS TV and HDNet Movies

Anthem Sports and Entertainment has named television executive Greg Drebin head of content and marketing for AXS TV and HDNet Movies.

Drebin will work alongside the newly-appointed president of AXS TV and HDNet Movies Andy Schuon, to whom he will directly report. Schuon and Drebin have a successful business partnership that spans both of their careers, having previously worked together at MTV, CBS Radio, and Universal’s International Music Feed Network, which they co-founded.

“Greg Drebin is an exceptional talent,” Schuon said in a statement. “His dynamic, strategic and innovative mind, and his industry expertise make him a natural fit for what we aim to accomplish at AXS TV and HDNet Movies. I am really looking forward to collaborating with Greg once more.”

Previously, Drebin held the role of EVP of worldwide marketing, publicity and research at Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution (TCFTVD), overseeing global marketing, publicity, and promotional initiatives for the studio’s film and television offerings across linear, SVOD, and streaming services. At Fox, Drebin also managed the TCFTVD research division and their London based Fox Networks Group Content Distribution (FNGCD) marketing and research divisions for The Fox Network International Channels, including National Geographic’s original series and library.

Prior to joining Fox, Drebin was SVP of programming and marketing at Warner Bros. International TV Branded Services, launching and operating more than 50 channels throughout more than 35 countries including WarnerTV channels in Latin America, Asia, and the United Kingdom and Europe. At Warner Bros., he also served as head of marketing for Canada, Asia Pacific and Latin America for television and film distribution.

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Additionally, Drebin’s background includes tenures with Universal Music Group, where he was EVP of the International Music Feed Network — leading all on-air creative content, programming, marketing, and production for the channel, and a decade with MTV, where he was SVP of programming and production. He began his career in entertainment as an NBC page and production assistant where he worked on such iconic series as “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Night with David Letterman,” “NBC Nightly News” and “NFL Live.”

“AXS TV and HDNet Movies are well established networks with strong foundations in music and film.  I look forward to working with Andy again to maximize their potential across all platforms,” Drebin said in a statement.

Gravitas Acquires Rights to Dark Comedy ‘Bad Behaviour’

Gravitas Ventures has acquired U.S. and Canadian rights to actress and first time feature director Alice Englert’s dark comedy Bad Behaviour, starring Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly.

Gravitas Ventures will bow the comedy via digital, cable on demand and limited theatrical release on June 14.

The film, which debuted at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, also stars Ben Whishaw, Englert, Ana Scotney, Dasha Nekrasova, Marlon Williams, Karan Gill and Beulah Koale. 

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with Gravitas and share the glorious work of this wondrous cast and crew with U.S. audiences,” Englert said in a statement.

“Gravitas is excited to bring Bad Behaviour to North American audiences. After making a splash at Sundance 2023, Alice Englert’s directorial debut highlights the outstanding performances led by herself, Ben Whishaw, and Jennifer Connelly as they handle (and mishandle) their familial trauma in darkly comic ways,” Bill Guentzler, Gravitas VP of acquisitions, said in a statement. 

In the film, Lucy, a former child actress, seeks healing from the traumas of her life. She embarks on a spiritual retreat, only for it to become anything but healing: she’s easily annoyed by the other attendees and wants attention from the retreat’s new-age guru Elon Bello. Even worse, she has become destructively obsessed with the retreat’s celebrity guest, a model named Beverly. As Beverly finds “enlightenment” easily, Lucy’s feelings of insecurity continue to rise to the surface. During this time, Lucy also tries to connect with her stunt performer adult daughter Dylan, who’s currently on set in New Zealand. Dylan’s falling into an obsession of her own: a bad romance with the main actor Elmore, whose insistence on doing his own stunts will have disastrous consequences. Brutal incidents in both women’s worlds force them to back together to confront their personal demons and their own relationship.

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Guentzler negotiated the deal with CAA Media Finance and Verve Ventures on behalf of the filmmakers.

Gravitas Ventures Acquires Doc ‘One Road to Quartzsite,’ Available Digitally

Gravitas Ventures has picked up rights to the documentary One Road to Quartzsite.

The company released the film Dec. 5 for digital purchase and rental, and it will have a theatrical release this week in New York City.

The film is an observational documentary that captures the spirit of a peculiar place in the American West — Quartzsite, Ariz. The project is helmed by filmmaker Ryan Maxey, who directed, produced, shot and edited the work while spending three winters living in Quartzite in a converted school bus.

Often described as “the world’s largest parking lot” or “Burning Man for old people,” it’s easy to recognize the rocky, desert landscape and its eclectic residents from the Oscar-winning film Nomadland by Chloe Zhao. This plot of desert between Phoenix and Los Angeles is operated by the Bureau of Land Management and allows for cheap, long-term camping. Anyone can pay $180 and stay for up to six months. What results is an unlikely cross section of transient people — retired snowbirds, crustpunks, homeschooled pre-teens and libertarians — as they make their annual pilgrimage to warmer weather. Every winter, the population of Quartzsite, Ariz., swells from 600 to more than a million. Folks live out of RVs, vans, limos, tents, pallet and tarp structures, even Priuses.

At a time when the world feels stuck in trying to understand our deep divides, One Road to Quartzsite offers a meditative exploration of our common humanity. Drawn to a community of like-minded souls defining their own search for personal freedom and throwing off society’s conventional constraints, Maxey made friends, but could not deny some deep underlying tensions.

“In one way, Quartzsite is an embodiment of Americana. It is blue collar, it is meat ‘n’ potatoes. It is Trump lovin’, gun totin’ good ole boys and girls looking for a way to live out their last days,” Maxey said in a statement. “Some days I grew frustrated with the place, confronted with representations of so many toxic American values. And other times I was belting out classic country tunes on karaoke nights with a newfound family.”

In his second year there, Maxey brought along his camera to explore these internal questions without any sit-down interviews, using a cinema vérité approach. Everyone’s story is revealed through authentic desert chitter-chatter. The camera is a fly in the dirt, living within intimate exchanges. Viewers watch a singles bingo game, a trans woman heal, a wife widowed who must pick up the pieces, a pair of home-schooled pre-teens fall in love, and a man face cancer but live to entertain at his piano’s altar. Some of the film’s characters bought into the American Dream and lost everything in the Great Recession. Others dropped out long ago. Now they’re all neighbors on the same piece of dirt. 

Maxey shot One Road to Quartzsite as a one man crew and he worked with Nine Inch Nails drummer Ilan Rubin on the original score. The film won Best Documentary Feature at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Chattanooga Film Festival, and Calgary Underground.

As part of the film’s release, Village East by Angelika theater in New York City will host a ticketed screening Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.

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The project was produced by Josh Polon and executive produced by Kyle Marvin, Michael Covino and Emily Korteweg of Watch This Ready and Scott Veltri.

Gravitas Acquires Doc ‘American: An Odyssey to 1947,’ Due on VOD Sept. 12

Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American rights to the documentary American: An Odyssey to 1947 and will release the film on VOD Sept. 12.

Written, directed and produced by Danny Wu, the documentary is a collection of stories leading to the year 1947, centering the political evolution of director Orson Welles. It embarks on a compelling journey through the transformative era of the 1930s and ’40s in American history. The film follows the rise and fall of Orson Welles, while interweaving stories of diverse individuals amidst the backdrop of the Great Depression, World War II and the dropping of the Atomic Bomb.

The film screened at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, It’s All True International Documentary Festival in Brazil, Austin Film Festival, and the Melbourne Documentary Festival.

“Gravitas is excited for North American audiences to experience American: An Odyssey to 1947 this September,” Bill Guentzler, VP of acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures, said in a statement. “Filmmaker Danny Wu seamlessly interweaves fascinating stories, including the rise of Orson Welles, from varied backgrounds to help us understand what it meant to be an American almost 100 years ago.”

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“We are absolutely thrilled to have partnered with Gravitas for the release of our film,” Wu said in a statement. “American: An Odyssey to 1947 is a reimagined historical documentary, focusing not only on Orson Welles but also shedding light on the untold stories of that era. Over the past year, we’ve had the privilege of traveling the globe on the festival circuit, witnessing diverse audiences form deep connections with our film in their own unique ways. It’s been an incredible experience, and we can’t wait to bring that same feeling into people’s homes.”

Guentzler negotiated the deal with Maple Road Pictures.

Anthem Appoints Richard Schaefer President of Sports Properties

Anthem Sports and Entertainment has appointed global combat sports executive Richard Schaefer president of its sports properties, which are to be re-organized as a separate operating group under the name Anthem Sports Group Inc. (ASG).

These properties include ASG’s Impact Wrestling promotion, all-female MMA organization Invicta Fighting Championships, and Fight Network, the 24/7 combat sports channel.

Anthem also owns Gravitas Ventures.

Drawing on more than 20 years of experience in the combat sports and boxing realm, Schaefer will oversee ASG and play a key role in building strategic partnerships and relationships with leading sponsors, brands, agents and athletes in the industry.

“Under Schaefer, ASG will aggressivly pursue additional acquisitions in the combat sports and professional wrestling businesses,” according to a company press release. “Schaefer’s wide-ranging background in professional boxing will also be leveraged to establish a boxing promotion platform.”

“Richard Schaefer is a major force in the combat sports and boxing arena,” Leonard Asper, Anthem president and CEO, said in a statement. “As one of the industry’s most-respected executives, he leads with integrity and brings an unprecedented wealth of expertise — cultivated from more than two decades working alongside the sport’s biggest brands and most legendary fighters. Anthem is pleased to welcome him to our executive team as the President of Anthem Sports Group, and we look forward to reaching even greater heights as a global sports powerhouse under his guidance.”

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“I am beyond thrilled to be joining the Anthem team and ASG. Len Asper, Ed Nordholm, Scott D’Amore and Shannon Knapp have built a fantastic business, and I am honored to be working with them,” Schaefer said in a statement. “Together, we will create a global destination which attracts the best talent and delivers the most exciting content across all aspects of combat sports. All of our assets under the ASG umbrella will create new and innovative synergies when dealing with distribution platforms, sponsors, venues and fan interaction.”

Schaefer has previously served as the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. Over his 20-plus years in the combat sports space, he promoted or advised such stars as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Canelo Alvarez and UFC superstar Jon Jones. Helming more than 527 promoted events, he is one of the leading all-time promoters in boxing.

Anthem has also brought in two senior executives and promoted Scott D’Amore to president of Impact Wrestling to highlight its goal of growing the Sports Group.  D’Amore and Shannon Knapp, the president of Invicta FC, will report to Schaefer.

“Scott has established himself as the leader of Impact Wrestling since joining us in 2018, re-establishing the promotion as one of the finest professional wrestling promotions in the world,” Ed Nordholm, chief corporate officer of Anthem, said in a statement.

Schaefer will be working with former WWE and Cirque du Soleil executive Lou D’Angeli, who has joined Anthem Sports Group as VP of Marketing. In this role, D’Angeli is overseeing all aspects of marketing, advertising, promotion and public relations for ASG.

D’Angeli has more than 25 years of experience in event marketing and promotion, having served as VP of marketing for Cirque du Soleil, where he was responsible for all marketing, advertising, public relations and digital media strategy for North America. Additionally, he served as director of marketing for WWE, developing and implementing all national advertising strategies, social media initiatives, and fan festivals and experiential events.

“In just a few months, Lou has been a leader in increasing awareness and attendance at both IMPACT Wrestling and Invicta FC events,” Nordholm said in a statement. “With his past experience in event promotion and marketing at such iconic brands, we are very lucky to have Lou on the team and his expertise is already providing dividends.”

Anthem also announced that Mike Pine and Talon Partnerships have been retained by ASG as strategic advisors, focused on securing sponsorships and new revenue initiatives for Impact Wrestling and Invicta FC. While Pine and Talon’s initial emphasis will be placed on the Sports Group properties, Talon’s scope will also include Anthem’s diverse entertainment offerings.

Previously, Pine has held the head of global sales/chief revenue officer positions for four separate billion-dollar companies. Under Pine’s leadership, Talon clients have ranged from sports and entertainment properties and influencers to NCAA and professional athletes.

“Mike is a true combat sports veteran, having worked with several world leaders in the MMA and professional wrestling industries,” added Nordholm. “In addition to his expansive knowledge, he comes armed with unparalleled insight and ideas that go outside the box — forming strategic partnerships and initiatives that fit the mission of each brand, while exponentially growing awareness and revenue. We are confident that the talented team that we have assembled under Mr. Schaefer’s leadership is well-positioned to expand our offerings in the combat sports arena, utilizing world-class IP directed at combat sports enthusiasts.”

Invicta Fighting Championships Inks Deal With Fox Sports Mexico

Invicta Fighting Championships, a subsidiary of Anthem Sports & Entertainment, has announced a five-year partnership with Fox Sports Mexico — broadcasting every MMA Invicta FC event live and in Spanish to its viewers across the country, beginning with Invicta FC 49: Delboni vs. DeCoursey on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

The upcoming Invicta FC 49 event airs live from Sugar Creek Casino in Hinton, Okla., giving Fox Sports Mexico’s audience a front-row seat as the trailblazing promotion presents a night of world-class all-female action featuring top Mexican athletes Montserrat “The Monster” Rendon and Nadia Vera. Rendon is putting her undefeated streak on the line in a Bantamweight bout vs. “The Quiet Storm” Brittney Cloudy, and Vera vs. Shauna Bannon is a Strawweight battle of the unbeatens.

Invicta FC 49 is headlined by Atomweight Champion Jéssica Delboni from Brazil in her first title defense against “Lionheart” Jillian DeCoursey, and also includes Finland’s Maiju Suotama vs. Brazilian knockout specialist Ketlen “Esquentadinha” Souza in the co-main event; as well as Liz “The Titan” Tracy vs. Valesca “Tina Black” Machado in a Strawweight showdown; and Ultimate Fighter alumnus Helen “Iansã” Peralta vs. UFC veteran Poliana Botelho.

“FOX Sports Mexico is dedicated to showcasing the absolute best sports coverage from across the globe, making Invicta FC the perfect complement to our strong lineup of international offerings,” Cristina Ruiz de Velasco, Fox Sports GM, said in a statement. “Combat sports have always been popular with our audience, and we are proud to offer every live event from the world’s premier all-female MMA promotion through this interesting new partnership. Invicta FC is a true gamechanger in the industry, we cannot wait to share all they have in Mexico and excited for the upcoming Invicta FC 49 airing on Sept. 28.”

“Mexico has long-boasted a large and passionate fanbase of knowledgeable combat sports enthusiasts, and we could not be more pleased to bring our groundbreaking brand of all-female MMA action to them through this landmark partnership with FOX Sports Mexico,” Invicta founder and president Shannon Knapp said in a statement. “Throughout our history, we have proudly showcased top Mexican athletes such as Alexa Grasso, Irene Aldana, Montserrat Ruiz, Karina Rodriguez and Pearl Gonzalez, and Invicta FC 49 continues that legacy with bouts featuring undefeated talents Montserrat Rendon and Nadia Vera. This is just the beginning of what we believe will be a long and successful partnership, and we look forward to presenting our unparalleled athletes, exciting matchups and innovative open scoring on FOX Sports Mexico for many years to come.”

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In addition to airing live on Fox Sports Mexico, Invicta FC 49 will be broadcast on AXS TV in the United States; Fight Network in Canada; NENT Viaplay, Nova TV and Match TV across Europe; Star Times in Africa; and globally on Invicta’s official YouTube Channel and Facebook page, kicking off at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.

Xumu Adds Anthem’s AXS TV Now and Fight Network to FAST Channel Lineup

Two properties from Anthem Sports and Entertainment — the music and entertainment hub AXS TV Now and combat sports outlet Fight Network — are now available as new ad-supported FAST channel offerings on Xumo.

AXS TV Now and Fight Network join fellow Anthem property The Impact Wrestling Channel, which launched on XUMO in 2020. All three services have multi-year agreements on the platform.

AXS TV Now is an “always on” entertainment, music and lifestyle network curated for passionate pop culture enthusiasts. AXS TV Now’s roster highlights both original and acquired programming including  “The Big Interview With Dan Rather,” “The Top Ten Revealed,” “Music’s Greatest Mysteries,” and “A Year in Music,” hosted by Grammy-winning Halestorm frontwoman Lzzy Hale; as well as digital-exclusive series such as the intimate artist profile “At Home and Social”; and a selection of special events featuring performances from Bon Jovi, Chrissie Hynde, KISS and Noel Gallagher, and award-winning rock docs such as Lenny Kravitz: Just Let Go, among many others.

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Fight Network is a destination for 24/7 combat sports coverage, with live and classic MMA and boxing events from around the world. Additionally, Fight Network has original programs, including “Retrospective,” “Diary,” “In 60” and “After the Fight.”

Anthem Acquires Gravitas Ventures

Anthem Sports and Entertainment, a multi-platform media company, has acquired content distributor Gravitas Ventures from Red Arrow Studios.

Anthem purchased the distributor for $73 million in cash and an additional common stock consideration component, according to the companies.

Gravitas founder and CEO Nolan Gallagher, president Michael Murphy, EVP and general counsel Brendan Gallagher, and CFO Brian Kenyon join the Anthem executive team. Additionally, the entire Gravitas Ventures organization will remain intact.

Gravitas Ventures joins Anthem’s roster of properties that includes AXS TV, HDNET Movies, IMPACT Wrestling, Invicta Fighting Championships, Fight Network, Game+ and GameTV. The purchase gives Anthem more than 8,000 hours of sports and entertainment content in its library to complement its seven consumer-facing streaming channel brands, according to a press release.

Cleveland-based Gravitas Ventures has been part of Red Arrow Studios since November 2017, and typically releases more than 300 films and documentaries per year. The most recent high-profile films in the portfolio include the 2020 feature The Secret: Dare to Dream, starring Katie Holmes, and the 2021 film Queen Bees, starring Ellen Burstyn and James Caan.

The deal gives Anthem’s properties access to Gravitas Ventures titles and opens up new areas of growth and revenue for Anthem’s existing content library, “allowing Anthem to utilize Gravitas’ rich partnerships with top digital platforms,”according to the release. Upon completion of the transaction, Anthem will add more than 200 customers to its ranks, while unlocking additional promotion opportunities for its various business units and enabling Gravitas to invest further in content opportunities, new themed channels and to enter the television distribution market.

The deal will allow Gravitas “to harness the full power of the library  leveraging Anthem’s expertise in launching highly-successful global FAST digital channels to create all-new themed channels specifically based around their unique content offerings,” according to the press release.

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“This is a significant step forward for Anthem in its mission to build a next-generation media company that is primed for the digital future, keeping Anthem ahead of the curve with the current trajectory of the fast-paced streaming-first entertainment ecosystem,” Leonard Asper, founder and CEO of Anthem, said in a statement. “Gravitas is a world leader in film and documentary distribution and provides Anthem with a major presence across the top digital platforms. We are happy to welcome Nolan, Michael, Brendan, Brian and the Gravitas team on board, and to broaden our shareholder base to include Gravitas Ventures’ management and Red Arrow Studios. We are excited to build upon the incredible success that they have already achieved.”

“Anthem perfectly complements Gravitas Ventures’ mindset and mission, presenting several major platforms where our films can thrive while opening up dynamic new areas and opportunities that will be vital in helping our company grow,” Nolan Gallagher, founder of Gravitas, said in a statement. “They have had tremendous success with all of their acquired properties, taking a hands-on approach that shows a great understanding for their unique products and what it takes to keep them on top in this highly competitive industry. We feel confident being a part of a talented Anthem team that is more than equipped to lead the charge for our filmmakers on this journey, and we could not be more excited to begin this new era in the legacy of Gravitas Ventures.”