The Weekly in January followed Douchebag, the indie dramedy about estranged brothers on an unlikely pre-wedding road trip, to the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where the buzz was deafening for former Santa Ana resident Drake Doremus' touching and amusing picture.
Despite no budget, no big-name stars and a, well, douchy title, Douchebag was selected for the Robert Redford co-founded fest's highly prestigious U.S. Dramatic Competition. It went on to be well received by audiences, win raves from the Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan, Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman and KCRW's "The Treatment" critic Elvis Mitchell, and generate predictions of a quick distribution deal from movie-biz wags. "With the festival halfway over, so far features titles like Douchebag, Buried (which sold to Lionsgate) and Blue Valentine have the most heat," reported Sharon Waxman on TheWrap.com.
But the heat seemed to be fading as no ink was put to contract. Now, after what the Hollywood Reporter's Jay A. Fernandez called "one of the longer-running deals-in-progress," Douchebag has been acquired and should be in movie houses this September.
Winning the rights to U.S. distribution was Red Dragon, which was founded in 2008 by entrepreneur investor Franck Dubarry, who will partner on the project with former William Morris Independent head Cassian Elwes and Paladin's Mark Urman, who will handle the theatrical release and marketing.
"Drake and I are ecstatic to have Mark Urman and Franck Dubarry pushing this film and believing in it so much," says Douchebag producer Jonathan Schwartz in the Hollywood Reporter piece. "Mark has always had amazing taste, and we've seen his success in the past with Sundance films like Half Nelson. It's exciting to have people on board who share our enthusiasm for the genuine laughs and emotions that our beloved Douchebag provides."
"I am extremely excited to be teaming with Franck and Red Dragon," adds Urman, "as well as Cassian, who brought us all together, in such an innovative distribution arrangement, which is only fitting given how fresh and original Douchebag itself is. Drake is a very accomplished filmmaker, wise beyond his years, and I think we are pretty wise ourselves for helping him further what will doubtless be a great career."
The deal was negotiated by United Talent Agency's Independent Film Group, which represented the film on behalf of the producers, along with attorney Lawrence Kopeikin of the firm Barnes Morris.
Shot in Santa Monica, Palm Springs and outside the Newport Peninsula home of the 26-year-old filmmaker's dad, Rick Doremus, Douchebag follows brothers Sam and Tom Nussbaum on a quest to find Tom's fifth grade girlfriend before Sam's impending wedding.
Oh, Sam and Tom hate one another.
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Sam is played by Andrew Dickler, who was the editor of Doremus' first feature, Spooner, which debuted at the 2009 Slamdance Film Festival and was also produced by Schwartz. Tom is played by Corona del Mar's Ben York Jones, who had a small part in Spooner and first met Doremus when both were teens and Jones was hired to run the lights on a youth theater production Doremus wrote, directed and staged at the Orange County Crazies theater run by Doremus' mother. Cherie Kerr.
The elusive girlfriend referred to in Douchebag is named after Doremus' actual fifth-grade classmate at Oakridge Private School in Orange.
In other acquisition-after-2010 Sundance news, Smash His Camera, a documentary about infamous paparazzo Ron Galella, was picked up by Magnolia. It is scheduled to open in theaters some time this summer, after a June 7 HBO premiere.