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Katie Couric’s Gun Debate Documentary ‘Under the Gun’ Sells to Epix (Video)

Lionsgate will coordinate a limited theatrical release and manage the film’s digital distribution

Following its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, Epix has acquired the provocative gun control documentary “Under the Gun,” which hails from the “Fed Up” team of director Stephanie Soechtig and executive producer Katie Couric, who also narrates the movie.

Lionsgate will coordinate a limited theatrical release in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles, as well as manage digital distribution on VOD platforms. Lionsgate will also manage distribution in Canada.

Presenting a balanced look at both sides of the gun debate, the documentary is set to premiere on Epix on May 14 at 8 p.m. ET during the Epix Free Preview Weekend, which runs from May 12-15.

To support the film’s premiere and to help raise awareness of the issue, Epix is collaborating with the filmmakers to implement robust social marketing that will include an expansive grassroots program designed to mobilize affinity groups across the country through a series of local market screenings and town hall events.

“Under the Gun” examines why, despite the increase in gun-related fatalities and the outpouring of shock and outrage that comes with them, America has failed to respond with meaningful action. What is keeping the two sides of this debate — those favoring stricter gun control laws and Second Amendment purists like the NRA — from finding common ground?

Through the lens of families impacted by the mass shootings in Newtown, Aurora, Isla Vista and Tucson, as well as the daily gun violence in Chicago, the film examines why our national politicians are refusing to act and what is being done at the state and local levels — especially in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook, a potential tipping point in the gun debate.

Notably, the filmmakers decided not to mention the names, nor show the photos, of any shooters.

“During this Presidential election year, we at Epix want to contribute to the national dialogue on the major issues affecting our country today. I can think of no more pressing subject than gun violence, and I am extremely proud to bring ‘Under the Gun’ to Epix viewers, said Mark S. Greenberg, the network’s CEO and president. “The gun debate, with its core issues of gun rights and gun violence, is one of the most polarizing taking place in our society today. In ‘Under the Gun,’ Katie and Stephanie bring their dynamic talent and perspective to this complex, multi-faceted issue and present honest, unbiased, and thoughtful commentary to this subject that has real life or death consequences.”

“We are pleased to make Epix the home for ‘Under the Gun.’ As both filmmakers and citizens who are deeply concerned about this issue, it was important for us that our film be seen by the widest possible audience. Epix showed a unique willingness and commitment to make ‘Under the Gun’ available to the entire country — for free — by premiering it during Epix’s nationwide free preview,” added Soechtig. “Making our film available to anyone with an Internet connection was something that no service or network other than Epix was willing to do. Their belief in this cause, and the passion that they bring to it, made them the obvious choice for Katie and me.”

Subjects and organizations featured in the documentary include: Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly (Americans for Responsible Solutions); Jackie and Mark Barden (Sandy Hook Promise); Sandy and Lonnie Phillips (Jessi’s Message); Richard Martinez (Everytown for Gun Safety); Victoria Montgomery (Open Carry Texas); Shannon Watts (Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America); Pamela and Tom Bosley (Purpose Over Pain); The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence.

Key facts explored in “Under the Gun” by victim’s families and pro-gun advocates include:

  • Gun violence is the second leading cause of death among children aged 10-19 in the U.S.
    (Source:  Children’s Defense Fund — the first leading cause is unintentional injuries/accidents)
  • 90 percent  of Americans support background checks, including 84 percent of gun owners and 74 percent of NRA members. (Source: John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, 2013)
  • 90 percent of guns used in crimes can reportedly be traced back to just 5 percent of gun dealers.
    (Source: Brady Campaign)
  • The manufacture and distribution of teddy bears is more tightly regulated for health and safety than handguns.

Directed by Soechtig, “Under the Gun” was produced by Atlas Films in association with Carellie Productions. Soechtig also produced the film with Olivia Ahnemann, Joshua Kunau and Kristin Lazure, while Couric executive produced alongside Regina K. Scully, Michael Walrath and Michelle Walrath. The screenplay is credited to Mark Monroe, Brian Lazarte and Soechtig.

“I’ve covered mass shootings and gun violence throughout my career, but following the massacre at Sandy Hook, I was confused by the disconnect between public opinion (over 90 percent of Americans supported universal background checks) and public policy,” Couric said in a statement. “I hope this film will help people have a better understanding of how we got to this point.”

Watch the video above for TheWrap editor in chief Sharon Waxman‘s interview with Couric and Soechtig at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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