Magnolia Acquires North American Rights to Magic Trip

By Jigsaw / February 14, 2011 / 0 comments

Berlin – February 14, 2011 – The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures announced today they have acquired North American rights to Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood’s MAGIC TRIP, a freewheeling portrait of Ken Kesey and the Merry Prankster’s fabled road trip across America in the legendary Magic Bus. Co-directed and co-written by Oscar winner Gibney and his frequent collaborator Ellwood, the film was produced under HISTORY’s feature documentary banner, HISTORY Films, and the network will follow the film’s theatrical and home video release by Magnolia with a television broadcast premiere. Gibney produced along with Will Clarke, founder of Optimum Releasing, and Alexandra Johnes, another frequent Gibney collaborator.

In 1964, Ken Kesey, the famed author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip to the New York World’s Fair. He was joined by “The Merry Band of Pranksters,” a renegade group of counterculture truth-seekers, including Neal Cassady, the American icon immortalized in Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and the driver and painter of the psychedelic Magic Bus. Kesey and the Pranksters intended to make a documentary about their trip, shooting footage on 16MM, but the film was never finished and the footage has remained virtually unseen. With MAGIC TRIP, Gibney and Ellwood were given unprecedented access to this raw footage by the Kesey family. They worked with the Film Foundation, HISTORY and the UCLA Film Archives to restore over 100 hours of film and audiotape, and have shaped an invaluable document of this extraordinary piece of American history.

Magnolia will release the film this summer as part of its Ultra VOD program, premiering the film on VOD platforms a month prior to its theatrical release—a model that proved very successful last year for another Magnolia/Gibney collaboration, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer. MAGIC TRIP will mark the sixth collaboration between Gibney and Magnolia, who distributed three of the prolific filmmaker’s projects in 2010 alone: Client 9, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, and the Freakonomics omnibus, featuring a segment by Gibney.

“Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood have done a masterful job piecing together this incredibly amazing footage,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “It is truly like a taking a trip in a time machine back to the cultural beginning of the sixties.”

“I’m delighted to tune in and turn on with Magnolia and MAGIC TRIP,” said director Gibney. “Magnolia has the mind-expanded consciousness to be able to make the most out of this film. We’re on the bus. Further!”

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia SVP Tom Quinn with Cinetic’s John Sloss.