Searchlight Lands ‘Theater Camp’ In High 7-Figure WW Sundance Deal; Pic Will Get Theatrical Release – Deadline

UPDATE: Searchlight has confirmed Deadline’s deal scoop on Theater Camp. Release is below, with another big Sundance deal in the books.

EXCLUSIVE: Searchlight Pictures is in final talks to acquire Theater Camp out of the Sundance Film Festival, in a worldwide deal that will land in the $8 million range, with a theatrical release guarantee.

Directed by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman, the film stars Gordon and Ben Platt as longtime best friends who return to an upstate run down theater camp that is imperiled when its founder lapses into a coma due to an unfortunate strobe-light incident. Her son de ella takes over, and he tries to stave off foreclosure even though he initially has little interest in greasepaint and the boards.

The project grew out of Booksmart, another Gloria Sanchez production. Elbaum & Ferrell produced with PictureStart’s Erik Feig (who financed), Samie Kim Falvey, Julia Hammer, Ryan Heller, Maria Zuckerman, Noah Galvin, Gordon, Lieberman and Platt.

The film got a rousing standing ovation after its Saturday premiere at Eccles in Park City and becomes the second big sale of 2023 Sundance, after a whopper around $20 million that Netflix paid for world rights to fair play.

WME Independent is brokering the deal, which should be done shortly. Waiting to hear from Searchlight.





Park City, UT, January 23, 2023 – Searchlight Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to Sundance crowd pleaser THEATER CAMP, Molly Gordon and nick lieberman‘s feature directorial debut from PICTURESTART, Topic Studios, and Gloria Sanchez Productions. The mockumentary, which premiered to a raucous reception and critical acclaim at the festival, stars comedic ensemble Gordon (Shiva Baby, booksmart)Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect)Noah Galvin (booksmart)Jimmy Tatro (“American Vandal”)Patti Harrison (together together), and Ayo Edebiri (“The Bear”). Penned by Galvin, Gordon, Lieberman and plattand based on their short film, the film was produced by Will Ferrell, Galvin, Gordon, Lieberman, Platt, Erik Feig, Samie Kim Falvey, Julia Hammer, Ryan Heller, Maria Zuckerman, and Jessica Elbaum.

THEATER CAMP follows the eccentric staff running a scrappy theater camp in upstate New York. After its indomitable and beloved founder falls into a coma, they must band together with her clueless “crypto-bro” son to keep the thespian paradise afloat. The cast is rounded out by Nathan Lee Graham, Owen Thiele, Alan Kim, Alexander Bello, Bailee Bonick, Kyndra Sanchez, Donovan Colan, Vivienne Sachs, Quinn Titcomb, with Caroline Aaron and Amy Sedaris.

“We could not possibly imagine a better home for THEATER CAMP than Searchlight Pictures! It is an absolute dream to become a part of their incredible and rich history that includes so many of our favorite films,” said Gordon and Lieberman. “This movie is about the joy of bringing people together in a room, and for Searchlight to see the importance of sharing it in theaters means so much to us. We are beyond grateful and thrilled.”

“Making this movie with the supremely talented Ben, Molly, Nick, and Noah, the amazing Gloria Sanchez gang, and our friends at Topic Studios was a complete dream,” continues Feig. “The rest of the dream was to bring the film to Sundance where we would have an incredible screening and then got bought by Searchlight, who could bring it to audiences around the world like they did with other Sundance titles including Little Miss Sunshine and Napoleon Dynamite. And NOW that dream is coming true! We cannot wait for this movie to play in theaters, with real audiences, brought to them by the uniquely gifted team of Searchlight.”

“We had the time of our lives making this movie with Molly, Nick, Ben and Noah and our friends at PICTURESTART and Gloria Sanchez,” said Ryan Heller, EVP of Film and Documentary at Topic Studios. “David, Matthew and the entire Searchlight team’s enthusiasm for THEATER CAMP only reinforced that they are the ideal partner to bring this film to the world.”

“The raucous and resounding audience reception to THEATER CAMP is a testament to the charm, the wit and the joy of what Molly and Nick and the entire filmmaking team have created,” added Searchlight Presidents David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield. “We cannot wait to bring this inspiring and hilarious film to audiences in theaters around the world.”

THEATER CAMP was executive produced by Jeff Valeri, Shayne Fiske Goldner, Jimmy Tatro, Jennifer Semler, Michael Bloom, Alex Brownand Mary Bundy. The crafts team includes cinematographer nate hurstellers (tailwhip), editor jon philpot (“Hacks”, “Search Party”), production designer Jordan Janota and Charlotte Royer (The Art of Self-Defense)and composer james mcalister (Love, Simon).

THEATER CAMP will be released theatrically, with additional plans to be announced.

WME brokered the THEATER CAMP deal with Searchlight execs Paul Hoffman and Chan Phung.

The sale marks PICTURESTART’s third film comes out at the Sundance Film Festival, including last year’s Cha Cha Real Smooth, which sold to Apple TV+ for $15 Million and won the festival’s Audience Award, and Am I okay? which sold to HBO Max.

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