Barack Obama is coming to the movies.
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group has picked up Edward Norton’s “By the People: The Election of Barack Obama.” The documentary, directed by Amy Rice and Alicia Sams, was produced by Norton’s Class 5 Films. It follows Obama from the announcement on Feb. 10, 2007, of his candidacy for President to his inauguration.
Norton got the idea for the documentary after watching Obama at the 2004 Democratic convention, and Rice and Sams started shooting footage even before his candidacy was officially announced.
“We were all so struck by Barack’s speech and talked about how exciting it was to see someone from our generation, not our parents’, make his presence felt in such an inspiring way," Norton has said, "It was akin to the way I remembered my dad describing how he felt when Kennedy gave his inauguration speech."
This isn’t the first documentary to cover a candidate’s run for the Presidency. The 1993 "The War Room," directed by D.A. Pennebaker, which covered Bill Clinton’s campaign — but only after he was already seeking office — did well with critics and at the box office, taking in about $900,000. “Journeys With George,” released in 2003 and chronicling the George W. Bush 2000 run, did less well.
The Norton brand and the Obama name on “People” is expected to garner a good amount of buzz. Plus, political films seem to be gathering steam with the public — both “Milk” and “Frost/Nixon” last winter did extremely well with both critics and audiences.
Sony has acquired all media rights internationally (except British television) and domestic home entertainment rights to the Norton movie. It will be distributed in the U.S. by HBO Documentary Films.
Sony Pictures Television is handling sales for TV outside the U.S. and U.K., mobile and new media.