Gravitas Ventures Bows Doc ‘Finding Kendrick Johnson’ in Theaters and on VOD

Gravitas Ventures has acquired rights to distribute the documentary Finding Kendrick Johnson, directed by Jason Pollock, in the United States and Canada.

It bowed in 20 theaters around America and on VOD starting July 30.

The filmmaker cracks a major case dealing with the racially charged murder of a teen, according to a Gravitas release.

Kendrick Johnson was found dead rolled up in a gym mat in his high school in 2013. Since then, the state of Georgia has ruled his death an accident. Two independent autopsies have proven otherwise.

“The case of Kendrick Johnson is one of the most important in U.S. history,” said Pollock in a statement. “K.J. deserves justice, and hopefully our film will help his family get one step closer to that outcome.”

The documentary is narrated by Hollywood veteran Jenifer Lewis, who also serves as an executive producer. Other executive producers and producers include actor Hill Harper and Space Jam 2 director Malcolm D. Lee.

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“This is the most important film I’ve ever worked on,” said Lewis in a statement. “What this family has gone through is unspeakable but we must speak it so the public knows the truth. Jason has done a brilliant job on this vital story of injustice,”

Pollock’s previous film Stranger Fruit cracked the Mike Brown case open by releasing never-before-seen footage of Mike the night before he was killed by a police officer. Pollock promises that Finding Kendrick Johnson will also have evidence which will crack the case open, according to the press release.

“We have found a lot of new game changing evidence in K.J.’s case, and we’re looking forward to the public seeing everything and making up their own minds,” said Pollock in a statement.

“Gravitas is proud to partner with Jason Pollock again on his latest film, which now more than ever, reinforces the notion that justice and accountability should be vigorously pursued, no matter how long it takes,” said Brendan M. Gallagher, Gravitas Ventures EVP and general counsel, in a statement.

Gravitas Ventures to Release Doc ‘The Center: Gibbons and Guardians’ on Disc and Digital Sept. 21

Gravitas Ventures has acquired North America rights to the documentary The Center: Gibbons and Guardians, which will be released across all TVOD/digital platforms and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD in North America on Sept. 21.

Directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Alex M. Azmi (To Climb a Gold Mountain and the upcoming Man and Machine), the documentary is a winner of five festivals from an international film festival run of more than a dozen festivals.

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It tells the story of The Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, Calif., at which a determined group of people dedicate their lives to the care of endangered apes and in the process, find courage, laughter and even romance. The film follows the unexpected dramas at this remote nonprofit wildlife center in the California desert, weaving together the lives of endangered gibbons alongside those who care for them.

It features interviews with a number of the leading women who tirelessly champion apes globally, including Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and U.N. messenger of peace, and The Gibbon Conservation Center’s director Gabriella Skollar.

Doc ‘Fish & Men’ Swimming to DVD, VOD and Digital Sept. 14 From Virgil

The documentary Fish & Men will come out on DVD, VOD and digital sellthrough Sept. 14 from Virgil Films.

Today, 91% of fish is imported, as the United States is flooded with 6 billion tons of seafood from abroad annually. Consumers across America eat blissfully unaware of where their seafood is from, or the dire consequences of their demand for only five species of fish sourced from distant oceans.

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Fish & Men exposes the high cost of cheap fish in the modern seafood economy, and the forces threatening local fishing communities as well as the public health. The film explores a new movement underway to return sustainability to both fish and fishermen. Thriving local communities, pioneering fishermen and celebrated chefs are leading a revolutionary new model, a “Catch of the Day” revival based on local, seasonal, sustainable fish — introducing consumers to discover new varieties of storied seafood and reconnect them with those who risk their lives to harvest the bounties of the sea.

‘Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ Tops Vudu and FandangoNow Charts

Lionsgate’s sequel The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard topped both the Vudu and FandangoNow charts for the week ended July 25.

Both Vudu and FandangoNow are transactional VOD services owned by Fandango.

An action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard debuted for digital purchase July 27. In the film, the world’s most lethal odd couple — bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) and hit man Darius Kincaid (Jackson) — are back. Still unlicensed, Bryce is forced into action by Darius’s wife, the infamous international con artist Sonia Kincaid (Hayek). As Bryce is driven over the edge by the volatile spouses, the trio get in over their heads in a global plot and soon find that they are all that stand between Europe and a vengeful and powerful madman (Antonio Banderas).

Universal Pictures’ horror thriller The Forever Purge, the latest installment in the dystopian “Purge” franchise about periods when all crime becomes legal, debuted at No. 2 on both charts. The film is available as a premium digital rental.

Paramount Pictures’ horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II, starring Emily Blunt and written and directed by John Krasinski, slipped to No. 3 from the top spot on both charts. The title is available for digital purchase. In the film, following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family must face the terrors of the outside world as they continue to fight for survival in silence.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, the latest installment in the horror franchise about a paranormal investigator couple battling the supernatural, debuted at No. 4 on both charts. The film is newly available for premium digital purchase and rental.

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Taking the fifth spot on both charts was Warner Bros.’ Wrath of Man, available for digital rental and purchase. Based on the 2004 French film Cash Truck, the actioner pairs director Guy Ritchie with Jason Statham. Statham plays a mysterious new security guard for a cash truck who surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during a heist. The crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from.

Additional newcomers to the charts were Sony Pictures’ comedic drama Here Today (No. 9 on FandangoNow), starring Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish, and the action thriller Midnight in the Switchgrass (No. 10 on FandangoNow), starring Megan Fox, Bruce Willis and Emile Hirsch.

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Vudu’s top 10 titles for the week ended July 25, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
  2. The Forever Purge
  3. A Quiet Place Part II
  4. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
  5. Wrath of Man
  6. Nobody
  7. Mortal Kombat
  8. Spiral: From the Book of Saw
  9. Godzilla vs. Kong
  10. Cruella

 

FandangoNow’s top 10 titles for the week ended July 25, in terms of revenue, were:

  1. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
  2. The Forever Purge
  3. A Quiet Place Part II
  4. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
  5. Wrath of Man
  6. Cruella
  7. Mortal Kombat
  8. Out of Death
  9. Here Today
  10. Midnight in the Switchgrass

Comedy ‘Big House’ Due on Digital and On Demand Aug. 17 From Gravitas Ventures

The comedy Big House will arrive on digital and on demand Aug. 17 from Gravitas Ventures.

The film follows Claire and Ali, for whom monogamy doesn’t run strong in paternal bloodline. They find healthy ways of dealing with the desire for more than one partner. Ali and her boyfriend Art invite Jas, a woman they met on an open relationships app, to join them for a threesome. But they also find not-so-healthy ways. Claire is cheating on her fiancé Zach with her coworker. When all six of these people find themselves stuck in the same house for what was supposed to be a beach weekend, the result is a dramatic farce.

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Directed and written by Jack Lawrence Mayer, the film stars Ellie Reed, Paige Collins, Michael Molina, Albert Huber, Evan O’Brien, Zoe Schwartz and Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman.

Doc ‘Far Out West: Inside California’s Kerista Commune’ Due on VOD and Digital Aug. 17 From Virgil

The documentary Far Out West: Inside California’s Kerista Commune will be available via VOD and digital sellthrough Aug. 17 from Virgil Films.

In the early 1970s, 25 free spirits found each other in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and formed the Kerista Commune. For two decades, they lived as one family, loving freely, raising children together, and making millions selling Apple computers. But if the alternative society they built was fantastically alluring, it was also fragile, and a quarter century after they voted to dissolve their commune, the former members are still debating what their experiment can teach us about human nature, and whether their utopia was actually a cult in disguise.

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Redbox Entertainment Acquires Nick Cannon Film ‘She Ball’

Redbox Entertainment has acquired the North American distribution rights to She Ball, a feature written, produced and directed by Nick Cannon, who also stars.

The film will be released simultaneously in theaters and will be widely available on demand including via Redbox on Aug. 6.

She Ball follows the love of basketball through the struggles of Avery Watts (Cannon), who enlists the help of a women’s streetball league to help him save the embattled Inglewood Community Center he manages, all while trying to raise his 7-year-old daughter.

The film also stars Bryan ‘Birdman’ Williams, Chris Brown, Cedric the Entertainer, DC Young Fly, Evan Ross, Faizon Love and Rebecca De Mornay. The movie also features athletes from the WNBA, Ball Up, and the Basketball Beauties League, including Melody Rae, and Jaliyah Manuel. K.D. Aubert, Luenell and Marla Gibbs also star in the film.

“Nick Cannon, one of the most prolific Black voices in our industry, has created a feature that truly captures the spirit of our unique times with She Ball,” Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, said in a statement. “She Ball tackles the critical issues of race and justice facing our nation today in an enlightening and entertaining way.”

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“Seeing this project come to life with my incredibly talented and committed team has been nothing but rewarding, powerful and, most importantly — fun!” Cannon said in a statement. “I believe this film conveys a strong message about the importance of aligning with today’s racial and social justice movements and fight for equality; while also taking us through a resonant example of someone in the community trying to make ends meet. I’m excited to partner with Galen and Redbox on this project to ensure the film reaches a wide audience who will hopefully enjoy taking the journey with Avery!”

She Ball is produced by Cannon, Williams, Brown, Roger Ubina, Demetrius Spencer and Benjamin Sumpter. Executive producers are Michael Goldman and Robert H. Keetch.

She Ball is the latest in a string of acquisitions from Redbox that includes The Last Son (starring Sam Worthington), Capone (starring Tom Hardy), Shadow in the Cloud (starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Nick Robinson), SAS: Red Notice (with Sam Heughan and Ruby Rose) and American Traitor: The True Story of Axis Sally (with Al Pacino and Meadow Williams). It also comes on the heels of Redbox’s venture with “John Wick” producer Basil Iwanyk to form Asbury Park Pictures, which is programming a slate of high-concept action and thriller films over the next few years.

The film is part of the “Redbox Original” slate of theatrical movies aimed at Redbox’s 40 million U.S. customers.

Redbox has engaged Vertical Entertainment as its distribution partner for the feature.

The deal was negotiated by Marc Danon, head of original content for Redbox Entertainment.

Mixed Martial Arts Story ‘Notorious Nick’ Coming to Digital Rental Aug. 6, DVD and Digital Purchase Aug. 17

The underdog mixed martial arts story Notorious Nick will be available in select theaters and for digital rental Aug. 6, and on DVD and for digital purchase Aug. 17 from Lionsgate.

Cody Christian (TV’s “All American” and “Teen Wolf”) stars in the underdog tale based on a true story. In the film, even though he was born with a partial left arm, Nick Newell (Christian) dreams of being a fighter. After wrestling in high school, Nick becomes a fierce competitor when his best friend Abi introduces him to mixed martial arts. Suddenly, a tragedy provides Nick with an unexpected opportunity.

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From a producer of BloodsportKickboxer and Death Warrant, the film also stars Barry Livingston, Elisabeth Röhm (American Hustle) and Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects).

Lionsgate Names Ryan Lowerre President of Domestic TV and Digital Distribution

Ryan Lowerre has joined Lionsgate as president of domestic television and digital distribution.

His appointment completes the reconfiguration of the company’s Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution Operations.

Lowerre will be responsible for overseeing the distribution and licensing of Liongate’s 17,000-title film and television library, feature films and first-run television series to clients in the SVOD, AVOD, basic cable and free TV space across the United States and Canada.

“The demand for premium content is increasing all the time as more new buyers emerge to compete in the domestic marketplace,” Lionsgate president of worldwide television distribution Jim Packer, to whom Lowerre will report, said in a statement. “Ryan’s past work experience and business relationships make him the perfect candidate to help Lionsgate capitalize on the growing opportunities of an ever-changing media environment. He understands the needs of our buyers and brings a fresh and invigorating perspective to the team and our domestic business.”

“Lionsgate is an entrepreneurial content leader at the forefront of innovative and bespoke distribution models, with a slate of current releases and a robust library that reach every corner of the world,” Lowerre said in a statement. “I’m proud to join Jim and the Lionsgate family in positioning the Company as a partner of choice to domestic streaming and linear buyers as their appetite for content continues to grow exponentially.”

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Prior to joining Lionsgate, Lowerre served two stints at Amazon Prime Video, most recently as head of licensed content, U.S., where he was overseeing the licensed content portfolio. During his tenure at the streamer, Lowerre’s responsibilities also included licensing first run TV series as well as leading the company’s content acquisition efforts for international expansion into the VOD/EST space. Lowerre also worked at Hulu where he oversaw content investment of hit television series such as “Black-ish,” “Power,” “The Good Doctor” and “Golden Girls.”

Lowerre began his professional career at 20th Century Fox in International Television Distribution with roles in finance and deal valuation as well as licensing deal negotiations in international markets for premium pay TV and SVOD. He holds an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in finance from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Drama ‘Downeast’ Coming to VOD and Digital From Gravitas Ventures

The drama Downeast will arrive on digital HD and cable VOD July 13 from Gravitas Ventures and APS Films.

The gritty crime story dives into the seedy underbelly of Maine, following Emma Maddox as she returns to her hometown, haunted by the mysterious death of her brother Mikey years ago. As she reconnects with his best friend Tommy, the two rekindle their flame and Emma begins to uncover the web of lies the town has been keeping.

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Downeast, directed and written by Joe Raffa based on a story by Maine native Greg Finley, had its world premiere at the Garden State Film Festival in March, kicking off a screening tour across North America. The film has taken home a number of awards including Best Director and Best Actor at Worldfest Houston and Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor at the Montreal Independent Film Festival. Downeast screened at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, the Phoenix Film Festival and the Show Low Film Festival.