MAGNOLIA PICTURES ACQUIRES NORTH AMERICAN RIGHTS TO CNN FILMS AND AGC STUDIOS EXECUTIVE PRODUCED DOCUMENTARY ‘SCANDALOUS,’ THE THRILLING ORIGIN STORY OF THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER
Magnolia Pictures announced today that they have acquired North American rights to SCANDALOUS, a new documentary directed by Mark Landsman (THUNDER SOUL, LOS JETS) that leads viewers on a wild ride through the larger-than-life pages of the National Enquirer, highlighting the publication’s impact on journalism, business, culture and politics. This Is Just A Test Media produced the film, which was executive produced by CNN Films and AGC Studios. CNN Films will retain North American broadcast rights, while AGC International, the international sales and distribution arm of fast-growing AGC Studios, will oversee international distribution rights. Magnolia is planning a November 15 theatrical release.
After purchasing the New York Enquirer in the 1950s with funds supplied by his godfather (and reputed mob boss) Frank Costello, Generoso Pope, Jr. rebranded and renamed the publication the National Enquirer. SCANDALOUS explores how Pope, Jr. turned the racing and sporting newspaper into a mass market grocery store tabloid stuffed with scandal, gossip, medical oddities, conspiracy theories, and paparazzi photos. Spiked with current-day interviews with former staff and other media observers, the film dissects why the paper has thrived, the impact of its sharp turn into partisan politics, and why a tabloid marketed to ‘Missy Smith in Kansas City’ began catching and killing stories to protect powerful men, and publishing propaganda profiles of foreign despots.
“SCANDALOUS is a blast,” said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles. “Mark Landsman has crafted a hugely entertaining origin story that turns the lens on one of America’s most infamous publications.”
“The National Enquirer has been behind some of the headlines that have shaped our culture for the past few decades, disrupting the norms of traditional journalism in groundbreaking, yet provocative ways,” said Courtney Sexton, vice president for CNN Films. “This is a timely and captivating tale, reflecting the zeitgeist of our time. SCANDALOUS is a beacon to that.”
“The real story behind the National Enquirer is like a classic monster movie from the 1950s where initially the creature doesn’t intend to harm anyone, but is soon wreaking havoc on the population,” said Landsman. “I was fascinated by the men and women who made that havoc happen, and thrilled to have the opportunity to tell the inside story.”
Frequent collaborators on exceptional documentary films, Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films most recently shared the success of Academy Award®-nominated RBG, a film about the life and legacy of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen. The two companies also paired for the distribution of LOVE, GILDA, directed by Lisa D’Apolito, about the trailblazing comedienne. In July, RBG was nominated for four, and LOVE, GILDA was nominated for two, 2019 Primetime Emmys®.
Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films have also shared the distribution of six other successful films including, BLACKFISH, about orcas in captivity; STEVE JOBS: The Man in the Machine, a biography of the tech inventor; ÉVOCATEUR: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie, about the culture-influencing, provocative talk show host; LIFE ITSELF, about the life of film critic Roger Ebert; WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, about the notorious Boston crime boss; and SUNSHINE SUPERMAN, a heart-racing thriller about the father of BASE jumping.
SCANDALOUS also marks another high-profile theatrical documentary partnership between AGC and CNN Films, who are partnered on the previously announced untitled JOHN LEWIS documentary, and LADY BOSS: THE JACKIE COLLINS STORY.
Directed by Mark Landsman, SCANDALOUS was produced by Aengus James, Colin King Miller, Landsman, Jennifer Ash Rudick, and Kristen Vaurio. Courtney Sexton, vice President for CNN Films, and Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, are executive producers, are executive producers, along with AGC Studios chairman and CEO Stuart Ford, and Rachel Traub.
The deal was negotiated by Magnolia executive vice president Dori Begley and Magnolia senior vice president of acquisitions John Von Thaden with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers; by Stacey Wolf, vice president of business affairs, and Kelly MacLanahan, assistant general counsel, for CNN Worldwide on behalf of CNN Films; and by AGC Studios’ vice president of legal and business affairs Anant Tamirisa on behalf of AGC.
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About MAGNOLIA PICTURES
The leading independent film distributor for nearly 20 years, Magnolia Pictures is the theatrical and home entertainment distribution arm of the Wagner/Cuban Companies. Recent releases include MIKE WALLACE IS HERE, a timely documentary on the legendary 60 Minutes newsman; TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM, celebrating the life and career of the trailblazing literary icon; 2018 Cannes Palme d’Or winner and Oscar-nominated SHOPLIFTERS, from renowned Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda; SUPPORT THE GIRLS, Andrew Bujalski’s critically lauded film starring New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress award winner Regina Hall; Box office sensation and Oscar-nominated RBG, award-winning filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s documentary about the consequential life and legal legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Ruben Östlund’s 2017 Cannes Palme d’Or winner and Oscar-nominated THE SQUARE; and Raoul Peck and James Baldwin’s Oscar-nominated I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO. Upcoming releases include stranger-than-fiction Sundance award-winning documentary COLD CASE HAMMARSKJOLD; RAISE HELL: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS, a new documentary about the trailblazing Texas journalist that world-premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Festival Favorites Audience Award at SXSW; MISTER AMERICA, a new comedy starring Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington; Cannes Best Actress prize-winning sci-fi feature LITTLE JOE; CUNNINGHAM, director Alla Kovgan’s immersive documentary on visionary American choreographer Merce Cunningham; and Romanian crime thriller THE WHISTLERS, which world-premiered in competition at Cannes.
About MAGNOLIA PICTURES INTERNATIONAL
Magnolia Pictures International is the sales arm of Magnolia Pictures, overseeing a diverse catalog of more than 100 features from Magnolia Pictures and 2929 Productions. Over the years, Magnolia International has worked on the international distribution of many ground-breaking documentaries including RBG, LO AND BEHOLD: REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD, THE WOLFPACK, and IRIS; critically-acclaimed narratives such as LUCKY, TANGERINE, GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK, and TWO LOVERS; and genre films XX, THE EYES OF MY MOTHER, TROLLHUNTER, and HONEYMOON. 2019 films include Sundance documentaries HAIL SATAN? and THE BRINK, survival thriller BODY AT BRIGHTON ROCK and Horror/Western THE WIND.
About THIS IS JUST A TEST MEDIA
This is Just a Test Media is a leading innovator of storytelling for every screen. TIJAT creates television, film, commercials, documentaries, and interactive content. In addition to the feature documentary “Scandalous”, TIJAT’s current projects include the sixth season of the award-winning “I Am Jazz” on TLC, “Undercover Billionaire” on Discovery and “Sugar & Toys” on Fuse. Founded by Aengus James and Colin King Miller and based in downtown Los Angeles, TIJAT began and continues to operate as an experiment.
About CNN FILMS
CNN Films produces and acquires documentary feature and short films for theatrical and festival exhibition and distribution across CNN’s multiple platforms. Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development, oversees the strategy for CNN Films; Courtney Sexton, vice president for CNN Films, works day-to-day with filmmakers to oversee projects. For more information about CNN Films, please visit www.CNN.com/CNNFilms and follow @CNNFilms via Twitter. Recent acclaimed CNN Films include HALSTON, directed by Frédéric Tcheng; RBG, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen; LOVE, GILDA, directed by Lisa D’Apolito; American Jail, directed by Roger Ross Williams; Three Identical Strangers, directed by Tim Wardle; and APOLLO 11, and APOLLO 11: First Steps Edition, both directed by Todd Douglas Miller and currently in exhibition.
About AGC STUDIOS
AGC Studios was founded and launched by Chairman and CEO Stuart Ford in February 2018 as a platform to develop, produce, finance and globally license a diverse portfolio of feature films, scripted, unscripted and factual television, digital and musical content from its dual headquarters in Los Angeles and London. The new studio’s Hollywood output has a wide-ranging multicultural focus, designed for exploitation across an array of global platforms including major studio partnerships, streaming platforms, traditional broadcast and cable television networks and independent distributors, both in the US and internationally.
AGC Studios is initially backed by three key strategic investors: Latin American private asset management firm MediaNet Partners; Image Nation Abu Dhabi, one of the leading media and entertainment companies in the Arabic-speaking world; and leading Silicon Valley entrepreneur and chairman of Fibonacci Films, Greg Clark. Chief Operating Officer Miguel Palos is also a stakeholder in and co-founder of the business with Ford.
AGC Studios has three principal operating subsidiaries covering production, distribution and finance. AGC Productions develops and produces a diverse multicultural slate of mainstream English language feature film and TV projects. Aside from traditional Hollywood output, dedicated sub-divisions within AGC Productions is focused on generating material for Latino and Urban audiences as well as music-driven IP. The television output will include scripted series, unscripted and reality projects, factual content and content specifically created for digital platforms. AGC International operates a substantial international film and television licensing and distribution platform, building on Ford and his management team’s lengthy track record at the forefront of licensing content to major studios, independent studios, broadcasters and streaming platforms globally. Finally, AGC Capital provides development, production and post-production financing to both AGC Productions’ output as well as to select third-party produced film and TV productions via a portfolio of equity, senior and mezzanine debt, soft money and bridge-capital financial products.