Chuck Gordon's Daybreak Productions has finally set up the first picture to fall under his independent financing structure now that MGM has committed to taking domestic rights to The Tree, a $30m comedy featuring hot rising star Johnny Knoxville.
Winchester Films - which set up the international distribution structure for Gordon on Daybreak with output and equity partners including Advanced Medien (Germany), Svensk Filmindustri (Scandinavia), Village Roadshow (Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Greece) and Manga Films (Spain) - began selling The Tree at this week's MIFED film market across other key territories such as the UK, France, Japan and Italy.
Set to start shooting in Feb 2001, The Tree will be directed by Stephen Surjik (Wayne's World 2) and is the story of a clean-cut White House aide and a redneck truck-driver who are forced to team up to transport the White House Christmas tree across the country.
While the second lead has yet to be cast, Knoxville is fast-growing in fame in the US. He has already proved a success in MTV comedy show Jackass and has film credits including Coyote Ugly, Deuces Wild and a key role in Barry Sonnenfeld's upcoming comedy Big Trouble opposite Tim Allen and Rene Russo.
Gordon announced his independent financing structure a year ago and market tongues had been wagging about the slowness of Gordon to deliver pictures with studios attached. However, despite all the talk, Daybreak also has two other films in active development at studios - The Girl Next Door at 20th Century Fox which will go through the output partners but will be handled in other international territories by Fox, and Raised By Ghosts which is also with MGM domestically and for which Winchester will handle sales outside the partner territories.