The Wagner/Cuban Companies' Magnolia Pictures announced today that it has acquired all North American rights to Freakonomics, the highly anticipated film version of the phenomenally bestselling book about incentives-based thinking by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Like the book, the film examines human behavior with provocative and sometimes hilarious case studies, bringing together a dream team of filmmakers responsible for some of the most acclaimed and entertaining documentaries in recent years: Academy Award® winner Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), Academy Award® nominees Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp), Academy Award® nominee Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) and Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters).
Produced by Chad Troutwine, with Chris Romano and Dan O'Meara of the Green Film Company, Freakonomics is the Closing Night Gala film selection at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Alex Gibney takes a visually arresting look at the crumbling façade of Sumo wrestling and exposes searing and violent truths about this ancient and revered sport. Morgan Spurlock offers up a buoyant and revealing angle on the repercussions of baby names. Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing balance levity and candor with an eye-opening profile of underachieving kids incentivized to learn with cold hard cash. Finally, Eugene Jarecki investigates an unsettling theory to explain why crime rates dramatically dropped in the early '90s. Seth Gordon weaves the pieces together with brisk interludes, providing context and commentary from the authors.
Magnolia anticipates a particularly wide audience for this documentary, as it is difficult to overstate the impact of the source material. Upon its release, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything spent multiple years on the New York Times bestsellers list, and became one of the most blogged about books in the world, inspiring a continuing discussion that has spawned a bestselling sequel (SuperFreakonomics), as well as a regular blog on the Times' website.
"As huge fans of the book, the film version of Freakonomics is something that we've been excited about ever since we caught wind of it," said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. "The fact that this dream project is being realized by the 'dream team' of documentary filmmakers makes this a major film event. We couldn't be more thrilled."
"Dan O'Meara, Chris Romano and I have long admired Magnolia's maverick approach to the business and their pioneering success with new distribution models. Freakonomics has been an audacious project from its inception, and we could not ask for a more intrepid partner to handle the release of our film than Magnolia Pictures," said producer Chad Troutwine of Green Film Company.
Magnolia is planning a fall theatrical release for the film. The deal was negotiated by Magnolia SVP Tom Quinn with Troutwine, Romano and O'Meara.