Magnolia Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to Assassins, the latest feature documentary from Ask Dr. Ruth filmmaker Ryan White. The film just had its world premiere in the Sundance Film Festival’s Documentary Premieres lineup. A 2020 release is planned.
Part true crime and global spy thriller, the documentary investigates the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in a Malaysian airport. The brazen attack was caught on camera, with two young women — Siti Aishah from Indonesia, and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam — shown attacking Kim with a VX nerve agent while he walked through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
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After their arrests, the girls say they believed they were part of a prank show. South Korea said the murder was an assassination by the North Korean government. Smith, who won a Sundance award in 2014 for The Case Against 8, asks whether the women were ruthless assassins or political pawns.
“Some stories can’t be made up and in Assassins, Ryan White does a terrific job unpacking one of the most mind-boggling stories in recent memory,” Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said Friday. “We’re very excited to bring it to American audiences and beyond.”
No terms were disclosed in this deal, but it’s Magnolia’s second significant pickup this week in Park City. On Wednesday, Deadline scooped that it had teamed with Topic Studios on a seven-figure deal for The Fight, which looks at the ACLU’s immediate efforts to blunt President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, something that happened within seven days of his inauguration. CAA Media Finance and Submarine Entertainment brokered that deal.
For Assassins, the deal was negotiated by Magnolia’s Dori Begley and John Von Thaden with Submarine and WME on behalf of the filmmakers.
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