Weinstein Co. snags theatrical rights to J.D. Salinger documentary

By Daniel S Levine,

PBS is already set to air Shane Salerno’s documentary on the late, reclusive author J.D. Salinger, but Harvey Weinstein is so confident in the film’s potential, that he bought up theatrical rights on Wednesday.

Deadline reports that Weinstein paid seven figures - at least $2 million - for worldwide rights, covering everything except U.S. TV rights. Weinstein plans to release the film theatrically during Oscar season late this year.

Weinstein and David Glasser saw the film on Sunday, just before the Oscars. His TWC was the only company that saw Salerno’s finished product and made sure to get the deal done right away.

Salerno secured a deal with PBS last month, which was also for a reported seven figures. It will air as the 200th episode of American Masters in January 2014. It will follow the release of the Salinger biography The Private War of J.D. Salinger in September.

American Masters creator Susan Lacy “...called me out of the clear blue,” Calerno recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “I answer my own phone. She started talking when I said ‘hello’ and I don’t think she stopped for 25 minutes. And she really made an incredibly coherent and intelligent case for why this had to be on American Masters.”

Salinger died in 2010 at age 91. His only published novel - Catcher in the Rye - remains a mainstay in American schools. Deadline notes that Salerno spent eight years making a film on Salinger’s life, investing $2 million out of his own pocket to make it.

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