MTV Films has boarded the Britney Spears movie What Are Friends For as co-producer, while MTV sister company Paramount Pictures is in advanced negotiations to take domestic distribution rights on the film which is being sold by Summit Entertainment.
MTV and Paramount have a history of youth-oriented hits which include Save The Last Dance, Beavis & Butt-head Do America, Varsity Blues and Election.
Meanwhile Summit is understood to be close to a quartet of high-profile territory deals - with Constantin Film in Germany, Momentum Pictures in the UK, Sogepaq in Spain and Egmont in Scandinavia.
Summit first offered the film to buyers at AFM in an unusual blind auction. Buyers were invited to make a presentation to Summit and Spears’ record label Jive (and parent Zomba) outlining how much they would spend on the film’s p&a - the $10m project is to be released for a fee and is being sold without a minimum guarantee. “It was very clever of them,” said one bidder. “Everyone errs on the high side because they want the project. Then they find themselves committed.”
Apparently, however, p&a costs are the first expense to be recouped. The lack of a minimum guarantee should further lower buyer risk, although the fact that they are handling the film for a fee will also reduce their upside on a film that Jive/Zomba and Summit clearly expect to be a runaway hit. The release of Spears’ next album is being timed to coincide with the film’s opening.
What Are Friends For was conceived by Spears, directed by Tamra Davis, produced by Ann Carli in association with Filmco and executive produced by Larry Rudolph. It completes principal photography this week.