Theatrical and home entertainment distributor Magnolia Pictures has picked up Citizen Ashe, a documentary about iconic tennis player and humanitarian Arthur Ashe, produced by Dogwoof for CNN Films and HBO Max.
The film, helmed by Sam Pollard and Rex Miller, premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and will open in New York and Los Angeles in December. Its international premiere will take place next week in London.
Exploring the private life of the three-time Grand Slam tennis star as well as his history of antiracism and human rights activism, Citizen Ashe features interviews with spouse Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, brother Johnnie Ashe; tennis legends Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Donald Dell, Charlie Pasarell and Lenny Simpson; and activist Prof. Harry Edwards.
“Sam Pollard and Rex Miller have delivered an exquisite, moving look at the life of a true iconoclast, one who forged his own path and defied stereotypes at every turn,” said Magnolia Pictures president Eamonn Bowles in a statement.
The theatrical distribution deal was negotiated by Dori Begley and John Von Thaden, on behalf of Magnolia Pictures. Stacey Wolf, senior vice president of business affairs for CNN Worldwide, negotiated on behalf of CNN Films. The film is produced by Beth Hubbard, Rex Miller, Dogwoof CEO Anna Godas, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Steven Cantor, and Jamie Schutz.
David Acker, William Ackman, David Barden, Geralyn Dreyfous, Nina and David Fialkow, Alex Gibney, Patty Quillin, Rick Rosenthal, Regina K. Scully, Tony Tabatznik, David Ulich, Steven Ungerleider, and Mike Jackson on behalf of Get Lifted Film Co. and his partners, John Legend and Ty Stiklorius, serve as executive producers.
The film will have its broadcast premiere via CNN, and will stream via HBO Max.
The announcement of the acquisition comes as news emerges that the distributor, said to have a library of some 500 films, has revealed it’s exploring a sale of the company and has retained an investment bank to determine the options. Part of Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner’s Wagner/Cuban Companies roster, a sale was last explored in 2011 — some time before streaming platforms began exploring purchases of content libraries in earnest. Now, streamers with global reach are becoming players of note in the M&A space. In May of this year, Amazon announced its acquisition of MGM in a US$8.45 billion deal.