Published On: Wed, Jan 29th, 2014

Frankie on His Way to Hollywood

Lenny Abrahamson secures US distribution for his latest movie release.

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After gaining rave reviews at  the recent  Sundance Film Festival,  it just keeps on getting better for Irish producer Lenny Abrahamson with the news that the distribution rights for  all of North America have now been picked up by Magnolia Pictures.

Critics, while raving about the originality of Frank, Abrahamson’s latest release, and possibly his most bizarre yet, will ensure that it would gain commercial success. Based on a character named Frank Sidebottom created by the late and often controversial English comedian Chris Sievey, the film look to be set to attract audiences only in the UK even though at least one third of the movie was shot in the United States.

When you first appeared on the comedy circuit in the north-east of England  in the late 1980s Chris Sievey would often adopt the character of Frank which entailed wearing an oversized  fake head.

Abrahamson had the imagination to take up that giant head almost a quarter of a century later and not only that, but  place heartthrob actor Michael Fassbender inside it, to take the role of Frank. Also appearing in the film version of Frank is Maggie Gyllenhaal  as well the prodigiously talented Domhnall Gleeson, who  also hails from Southern Ireland, the son of heavyweight screen actor Dominic Gleeson.

Frank played to packed houses at Sundance, with any of the leading film distributors worth their salt taking in the movie.  Magnolia Pictures obviously liked what they saw, and not long after the festival wound down their  senior vice president in charge of acquisitions Dori Begley in tandem with director of acquisitions John Von Thaden were knocking on the door of Protagonist Pictures, who are in charge of  worldwide sales,  to sign a  North American distribution contract for the movie.

What may well have walked in Lenny Abramson’s favor is that the founder of Magnolia Pictures  and the current president , Eamonn Bowles,  is also Irish born and bred, although  from Belfast on the northern side of the border.

After the signing was completed,  Bowles emphasized his satisfaction at tying up the distribution agreement, stating that all of the staff at  Magnolia were completely taken with ‘Frank, which once again reaffirms the considerable talents of Lenny Abrahamson, who has succeeded in delivering  a beautiful, poignant and hilarious film that speaks on many levels about being an artist.  “That Michael Fassbender can be so affecting while encased in a papier-mache head proves that he is one of the greatest actors working today.” Bowles continued

Lenny Abrahamson was not slow in expressing his delight that  ‘Frank’ had found a home in the US with Magnolia. “ When we met at Sundance I sensed  that their team there had developed a genuine passion for ‘Frank’ which along with their  skill and experience will undoubtedly make them  the best possible  partners to bring the film to its audience in the United States.”

Magnolia Pictures, who specialize  in distributing both foreign and independent movies, expect to release ‘Frank’ in the USA sometime during the coming summer.

 

Lenny Abrahamson was born in Dublin, Southern Ireland (Eire). While in his twenties Lenny was awarded a scholarship  by Stanford University, to study for a PhD in Philosophy.

However, even then his heart was in the film business and Lenny returned to Dublin without completing his degree. Lenny cut his teeth, making commercials for the local market, before directing his first local movie “Adam and Paul”, a black comedy on the Dublin underground scene which enjoyed considerable critical approval, particularly among local audiences

Lenny rapidly followed that up producing another cult movie, “Garage” in 2007. Garage told the story  of a lonely gas station attendant living in rural Ireland. In 2012, after some time out directing television dramas, Abrahamson turned his attentions back  to the world of movies succeeding in winning his third IFTA for best film with “What Richard Did” ,   which won an award for being  the most commercially and critically successful Irish produced  film for that year.

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