Magnolia Acquires Max Winkler’s ‘Ceremony’

Risky Business has learned that Magnolia Pictures has acquired the US distribution rights to Max Winkler‘s feature directorial debut Ceremony, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. This means that the film will be shown theatrically and will likely have a day-and-date video on demand availability on nationwide cable.

The 27-year old USC film school graduate and son of television actor Henry Winkler (Fonzie on Happy Days) is probably best known as the director of the popular Clark and Michael web series which starred Michael Cera and Clark Duke. In 2005, he co-wrote and co-directed a short film titled The King of Central Park, which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, Malibu International Film Festival and Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The short is wonderfully awkward, sometimes Wes Anderson-like, especially in the music, use of slow motion and symmetrical framing.

You could definitely see he has a unique voice and sense of comedy, which led to a few writing assignments: He co-wrote The Adventurer’s Handbook with Jonah Hill and Matt Spicer, which SNL Digital Shorts/Hot Rod helmer Akiva Schaffer is attached to direct at Universal. He also co-wrote a football script, a big screen adaptation of the short story Whispers in Bedlam for Jason Reitman.

Ceremony stars the very underrated Michael Angarano (Almost Famous, Snow Angels) as an aspiring children’s book author named Sam Davis, who convinces his former best friend Marshall (played by the also underrated Reece Thompson of Rocket Science and Assassination of a High School President) to spend a weekend with him to re-establish their friendship. But Sam has secret ulterior motives — he plans to infiltrate and break-up a wedding ceremony being held at a big Gatsby-esque-sized beach house in Long Island because he is in love with the bride, an older woman named Zoe (played by Uma Thurman).

In my TIFF review, I wrote that “Ceremony feels like the first movie from a filmmaker we need to watch — a fantastic feature debut. His screenplay is filled with complex, interesting and engrossing characters, and his film has fantastic performances across the board.”

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