Empire Film Group, Inc. has acquired all North American distribution rights to the highly anticipated and controversial independent film, Hounddog starring Dakota Fanning, Robin Wright-Penn, Piper Laurie and David Morse. Empire has initiated a marketing campaign to release the film to more than 500 theaters on July 18, and anticipates box office revenues of more than $15 million.

Dakota Fanning portrays a troubled, young girl living in the south in 1958 in 'Hounddog,' opening at theaters July 18, 2008 from Empire Film Group, Inc. Robin Wright-Penn portrays her caring aunt who tries to help her navigate through difficult times.

"We believe that 'Hounddog' will be one of the top, independent films at theaters this summer," said Dean Hamilton-Bornstein, CEO of Empire Film Group. "It is a powerful, coming-of-age drama that deals with serious issues that should resonate with audiences. Dakota Fanning delivers an Oscar-worthy performance and we expect to see a lot of media attention."

Hounddog generated tremendous media interest when a promo reel was shown at the Sundance Film Festival last year. The character played by 12-year-old Dakota Fanning is sexually assaulted in a scene that enraged conservative media pundits, even though the attack is implied and not actually shown.

"I think we all wish that no children were ever assaulted," said Deborah Kampmeier, writer and director of the film. "But it's not helpful to the victims for our society to ignore the subject and pretend that it's not real. 'Hounddog' takes this dark moment through an emotional recovery brought about through friends, family and music, to a message of hope."

Dakota Fanning is the most successful young actress in the motion picture industry. She has starred in over a dozen major hits including War of the Worlds, "Charlotte's Web" and Man on Fire with her last six theatrical films averaging over $46 million in USA box office gross. David Morse has starred in over 35 major films, with recent hits such as Disturbia and 16 Blocks. Morse is currently starring as George Washington in the $100 million-dollar-budgeted HBO miniseries "John Adams." Robin Wright-Penn has starred in over 30 major films, ranging from her Golden Globe nominated role as "Jenny" in Forrest Gump, to the recent hit "Beowolf."

Hounddog features original music tracks and performances by Elvis Presley, including the title song. The film was produced by Scott Franklin, Jen Gatien, Terry Leonard, Lawrence Robbins and Deborah Kampmeier for Motion Picture Group, Deerjen Productions and Full Moon Films. Executive Producers include Stacey Bakula, Rebecca Cleary, Sam Froelich, Heidi M. Kessler and Robin Wright-Penn. Director of Photography was Jim Denault, ASC. The 93 minute film is expected to receive a PG-13 rating. The film's release campaign will be designed and implemented by Eric Parkinson for Empire Film Group, Inc., utilizing Empire's internal distribution and marketing staff as well as key outside service providers.