Bad Education deal

Bad Education wasn’t what I’d call the most buzzed-about movie at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, but it clearly made an impression with the folks at HBO. The network just plopped down nearly $20 million dollars to purchase the film, a record-breaking sum as far as these things go. The dark comedy is based on a true story and stars Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney.

Deadline is reporting that HBO has purchased Bad Education for a record-breaking sum that nears $20 million. The exact number hasn’t been revealed yet, but the Deadline story states “the deal is in the rarefied range of the $17.5 million at Sundance for The Birth of a Nation, which was the fest record.” The deal will allow HBO to air the film globally. It’s also the biggest deal out of TIFF.

There was a time when the folks behind a high-profile movie starring folks like Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney would balk at the idea of selling it off to a cable/streaming network, and instead aim towards a theatrical route. But times have changed, and mid-budget, non-franchise movies like Bad Education have struggled to find audiences on the big screen. By going with HBO, Bad Education will now bypass theaters to air on cable and streaming, where it will hopefully find itself an audience.

Screenwriter Mike Makowsky commented on the deal on Twitter:

Bad Education “follows Frank Tassone (Jackman) and Pam Gluckin (Janney) who reign over a popular Long Island school district on the verge of the nation’s top spot, spurring record college admissions and soaring property values. But when an embezzlement scheme surfaces that threatens to destroy all they’ve built, Frank is forced to maintain order and secrecy — by whatever means necessary. Jackman’s performance as the charismatic Tassone has been praised as a career high by multiple critics.”

Reviewing Bad Education for /Film, Meredith Borders wrote:

 The stakes are high, the story’s juicy, the performances are terrific, but the film never crosses over into must-watch territory, feeling a bit more like an elevated made-for-TV exposé than the sophomore effort of the filmmaker behind the deliciously wicked Thoroughbreds. It’s a fun watch and a good story, but it never again really reaches the heights of that opening scene following Frank’s ingress to the spotlight (even when the film flashes back to it in its closing moments). Bad Education makes for a good time, but it’s too bad it never becomes a great film.

HBO will release Bad Education sometime in 2020.

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