Remember Push: Based on a Novel By Sapphire, the wild Mariah Carey/Mo'Nique starrer that lit up Sundance (and took home three awards)? Lionsgate took our advice and bought it, and now things have gone haywire.
The Weinstein Company and Lionsgate have now filed suit against each other, with each studio arguing that it came out of Sundance with the rights to distribute the movie. It's like Watchmen all over again, but with inner-city drama instead of blue wangs! Say THR:
"TWC reached a firm agreement for the rights to "Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire.' Behind their backs Cinetic Media tried to make a better deal with Lionsgate. Lionsgate was well aware of the TWC contract but went forward anyway," said Bert Fields, who along with David Boies is repping TWC. Typically in breach-of-contract cases, a plaintiff would either want the contract honored or, in its place, monetary compensation.
Fields added: "We have just been informed that Lionsgate went to court today in Los Angeles to preempt TWC's lawsuit in New York. This is obvious forum-shopping by a party that knew TWC was going to sue. We will deal with it appropriately."
Then again, the New York Times is arguing that the film is going to be a near-impossible sell anyway. Well, we'll come back to Push's box office potential in just a bit, after we demolish the rest of the claims in this NYT article for being inaccurate and sorta dim.
First, writer Brooks Barnes amusingly makes hay about the fact that Lionsgate originally agreed to talk to him about the film's marketing and then suddenly had to rescind their offer at the last minute. Barnes speculates that happened because the film is so hard to sell that they didn't want to discuss it—uh, we're going to go ahead and say that they pulled out because of the impending Weinstein/Lionsgate clash that some reporting on the matter might have dug up. Bummer to have that story announced today, too, dude!
Oh, but then there's this:
Lionsgate's recent success lies almost entirely in the horror genre, particularly the torture porn franchise "Saw," although it has had some luck in a corner of movies condescendingly referred to by the industry as "urban." The studio, for instance, distributes Tyler Perry's comedies, which have sold about $248 million in tickets over the past four years.
Really, has Lionsgate had "some luck"? Because from where we're standing, it looks like they actually nurtured a major film franchise and locked it down (but maybe it was because their Sagittarius is rising?). Anyway, there are really too many errors in this NYT piece to correct, from the comparison of its fortunes to the barely released Spike Lee bomb Miracle at St. Anna, to the assertion that "the average marketing cost for this type of film is $25 million" (right, because that's what St. Anna had, isn't it?).
Defamer's seen this movie, so let's give you our own perspective: yes, the film is harrowing, but it's also sometimes explosively funny, and it's adept at building and releasing tension at the right times. Also, with the weight of Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, and The View (Sherri Shepherd has a small role) behind it, this film is poised to hit its key money demographic: not black audiences, but women. There's no way this film won't be enormously talked about in the press, and Mo'Nique is a sure frontrunner for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, which ensures that the film will stay in the public eye long enough to far exceed some industry watchers' expectations.