New Line Near $15M Deal For Bruce Springsteen-Infused ‘Blinded By The Light’

New Line Near $15M Deal For Bruce Springsteen-Infused ‘Blinded By The Light’

EXCLUSIVE: In yet another all night deal auction, New Line and Warner Bros are acquiring for $15 million for worldwide rights, minus a a few territories, for the Gurinder Chada-directed Blinded by the Light. The film killed at its packed premiere last night, and it tells the story of a Muslim teen in Britain in 1987, who learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Like 16 songs worth of The Boss’s coming of age songs.

Pic stars Viveik Karla, Nell Williams, and Hayley Atwell and it premiered last night at Eccles. A big wide release is planned. New Line and Warner Bros won an auction rumored to have included Fox Searchlight, Lionsgate and others. It is the biggest sum paid for a Sundance film so far in what has turned out to be a very hot market.

Endeavor Content brokered the all night deal and ICM Partners reps Chada.

eOne already had pre-bought UK, Australia and New Zealand on the film.

The deal is both New Line and Warner Bros, latter of which will market and distributes the film. Release is still being decided, but they’re looking at a possible summer berth. Studio has been doing well in a variety of avenues, from Crazy Rich Asians, A Star Is Born to the Peter Jackson documentary They Shall Not Grow Old.

Some of the allure of the film had to do with the surprisingly universal appeal of Springsteen’s coming of age tunes, which tell honest stories about a hardscrabble upbringing, ambition and the fight to break free of all shackles to do something worthwhile with one’s life. Chadha wrote the script with Sarfraz Manzoor and Paul Mayeda Berges.

The film was financed by Leventine Films, and was produced by Chada, Jane Barclay and Leventine’s Jamal Daniel. The exec producers are Tory Metzger, Renee Witt, Peter Touche, Stephen Spence, Hannah Leader, Tracy nurse and Berges.

The film revolves around Javed, a 16 year old Pakistani boy growing up in Margaret Thatcher’s England in 1987, in the town of Luton. His father’s recent job termination and the neighborhood skinheads are a daily reminder of the difficult times he’s living in. What young Javed really wants is to be a writer—something his father doesn’t approve of or understand—and when a new friend loans him a few Bruce Springsteen cassettes, Javed is changed forever. The Boss’s working-class anthems and affirming lyrics seem to speak directly to Javed, emboldening him to find his own voice as a writer, stand up to the racism around him, and challenge his father’s rigid ideals.

Based on the memoir Greetings from Bury Park by journalist/writer Sarfraz Manzoor. Manzoor is even more of a Springsteen fanatic than I am, and he’s been to about 150 shows. Landing the rights to use that many songs from an artist as major as Springsteen is a blockbuster proposition. But Springsteen has been in a very introspective mode with his autobiography and Broadway show, and the filmmakers met Springsteen and charmed him enough to bless the project and make it possible to feature his songs.

Springsteen didn’t take part in last night’s Park City premiere as had been rumored; Chada told the crowd that The Boss didn’t want to overshadow the proceedings and take the focus away from the film. His support certainly will help the picture as New Line and Warner Bros roll it out this year in that wide release.

For New Line, it’s the first Sundance acquisition since the docu Batkid Begins. At the time, New Line released the docu about the ailing little boy in San Francisco, for whom the city turned the metropolitan area into Gotham City, with the child thwarting villains in the Batmobile. New Line also captured narrative remake rights and while that hasn’t happened, the ultimate happy ending did: the youth’s cancer is in remission.

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