According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount is now in exclusive talks for worldwide rights to Chris Rock's new comedy Top Five in a deal that could approach or cross $13 million, according to insiders. Rock directed, wrote and stars in the movie, which sparked an immediate bidding war after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival Sept. 6. The dealmaking became even more frenzied after Top Five received rave reviews, prompting virtually every major U.S. distributor to chase the film.
A deal with Paramount makes sense, considering the studio has longtime ties to producer Scott Rudin, who made the film in concert with financier Barry Diller. Also, Rock has known Paramount chief Brad Grey for years. Grey used to co-run Brillstein-Grey, which represented numerous comedians.
Sources say paperwork isn't finalized, but that all sides want it to work out. UTA is representing domestic rights to Top Five, while FilmNation has international.
Generally speaking, Hollywood studios aren't big festival players. But Paramount's Megan Colligan, who was recently promoted from domestic president of marketing and distribution to worldwide president, is a veteran acquisitions executive, thanks to her days at Fox Searchlight and Paramount Vantage.
Top Five, about a comedian trying to reinvent himself as a serious actor just as his reality-TV starfiancee talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her show, stars Rock opposite Rosario Dawson, with Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin Hart among those making cameos.