February 2, 2009

Lionsgate has N. American rights to ‘Push’

Lionsgate announced Monday it has acquired the North American distribution rights to the Sundance Film Festival hit Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire.

Directed by Lee Daniels, the movie won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, becoming only the third film in Sundance Film Festival history to do so.

Cast member Mo'Nique was also honored with a Special Jury Prize for acting. Her co-stars include Gabourey Gabby Sidibe, as well as Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd and Lenny Kravitz.

The deal marks the second collaboration between Lionsgate and Daniels, who produced the studio's Academy Award-winning Monster's Ball. The announcement was made by Jason Constantine, Lionsgate president of acquisitions and co-productions.

Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry will support Lionsgate's distribution of Push, through their respective motion picture companies, Harpo Films and 34th Street Films. It will be the first film affiliated with Perry's 34th Street banner.

'Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire' is an extraordinary film about taking hold of life; to watch it is to be galvanized and uplifted, Constantine said in a statement. 'Monster's Ball' introduced Lee as a gifted producer; we believe 'Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire' firmly establishes him as one of America's finest directors.

I've never seen anything like it. The moment I saw 'Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire,' I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to encourage other people to see this movie. The film is so raw and powerful -- it split me open, Winfrey said.