Magnolia Pictures acquired worldwide rights to “Little Richard: I Am Everything” from CNN Films following its premiere Thursday at the Sundance Film Festival.
Director Lisa Cortes’ film examines the impact of the earthquake on Richard Penniman, known professionally as Little Richard, at the origins of rock and roll, as well as his personal struggles with sexuality and religious beliefs. The film uses archival footage to tell that story, much of which involves her dynamic performance. Magnolia plans to release “Little Richard: I Am Everything” in April.
Eamonn Bowles, president of Magnolia Pictures, said, “Little Richard is the true king of rock and roll, the alpha and omega of wild, rhythm-based music. “The Lisa Cortes legend is proud to have the true story that celebrates this icon who shook the culture in so many ways.”
“Rock ‘n’ roll, race and queerness are at the core of our culture — and our culture war,” Cortes said. “Little Richard changed the way America thought about all three things. I’m thrilled that Magnolia Pictures is bringing this fierce, revolutionary icon to the world at a time when his journey couldn’t be more relevant.”
Reviews coming out of Sundance were strong, too diversityIts Wayne Glaberman praised Cortes for “…realizing Little Richard as a wild genius of black and queer culture,” which he argued allows us to “…see him more clearly than ever before.”
This is the second significant sale since the festival started on Thursday. Earlier, Netflix picked up rights in the US and numerous international territories for “Run Rabbit Run,” a thriller starring Sarah Snook.
The Little Richard documentary was produced by Robert Friedman, Cortes, Liz Yale Marsh and Caryn Capotosto. It is executive produced by Mike Powers, Anita Mae Rosenstein and Dee Rees; Jason Fine and Gus Weiner for Rolling Stone Films; and Amy Antellis and Courtney Sexton for CNN Films. HBO Max is an executive producer and holds domestic and international SVOD streaming rights to the film.
Dorrie Begley, Magnolia’s executive vice president, and John Von Thaden, senior vice president of acquisitions, negotiated the deal. Stacey Wolff, senior vice president of business affairs, and Kelly McLanahan, assistant general counsel for CNN Worldwide, represented CNN Films and the filmmakers.
Cortes has been replaced at Blackbox Management by Lowell Shapiro and Mike Deal.