John Leguizamo Feature Directorial Debut ‘Critical Thinking’ Picked Up By Vertical Entertainment

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EXCLUSIVE: Vertical Entertainment has acquired North American rights to John Leguizamo’s feature directorial debut Critical Thinking, which he also stars in and produced.

Written by Dito Montiel, Critical Thinking tells the 1998 true story of five LatinX and Black teenagers from Miami Jackson Senior High School, located in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Miami, who fight their way into the National Chess Championship under the guidance of their unconventional but inspirational teacher. The movie will hit VOD/digital on Sept. 4.

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“In today’s fractured society with so many disenfranchised young adults, in our country and around the world, this is a story which can and will inspire all of us to do better, keep focused and stay positive,” said Leguizamo. “With Critical Thinking we wanted to create a universal message of hope and spread this message to the world.”

The deal was negotiated by Peter Jarowey and Josh Spector at Vertical with the United Talent Agency Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers.

“Given the challenges that many are facing right now, it gives the team at Vertical great pleasure to bring a story this inspiring to screens everywhere,” said Rich Goldberg, co-president of Vertical Entertainment. “It’s a story that celebrates young people who were brave enough to believe in themselves, and we hope audiences will walk away feeling the same.”

Rachel Bay Jones (Ben is Back, Dear Evan Hansen) and Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, 12 Years A Slave) also star in the feature. Pic was produced by Scott Rosenfelt and Jason Mandl, as well as executive produced by Harvey R. Chaplin, Carla Berkowitz and Emilio Estefan Jr.

Vertical Entertainment released over this past weekend in theaters, the Vinnie Jones-Malcolm McDowell-Ron Perlman action feature The Big Ugly which grossed $150K at 68 sites. The movie will hit PVOD on Friday. Vertical’s Josh Trank Bron Studios’ movie Capone starring Tom Hardy cleared $2.5M+ on PVOD in its first ten days back in May, a record for the distributor.



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