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Magnolia Pictures and Participant Buy ‘The Grab,’ Global Thriller From ‘Blackfish’ Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite (EXCLUSIVE)

Magnolia Pictures and Participant have partnered to jointly acquire North American rights to “The Grab,” a new documentary from “Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

The film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, follows journalists from The Center for Investigative Reporting as they work high-profile sources and utilize a cache of secret data to uncover the money and influence being used by countries, corporations and members of the uber-elite to control the planet’s most vital resources. Participant and Magnolia are positioning the film as a “high-stakes global thriller,” one that takes viewers from Arizona to Zambia as the moviemakers examine the food and water scarcity that’s resulting from this little-known power grab.

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“We’re thrilled to reunite with our good friends at Participant and the great Gabriela Cowperthwaite who has, yet again, brought to light a nail biting, explosive, and essential story,” said Magnolia Pictures co-CEO’s Eamonn Bowles and Dori Begley.

“Gabriela’s masterful storytelling in ‘The Grab’ thrillingly opens our eyes about very real, and often unseen, national security and global threats, through the lens of The Center for Investigative Reporting’s startling investigation,” said Courtney Sexton, Participant’s executive vice president, documentary film and television.

Cowperthwaite has worked with many of the parties before. “Blackfish,” which looked at SeaWorld’s treatment of orcas, was produced by CNN Films, where Sexton was a top executive, and released in theaters by Magnolia.

“I am thrilled to be aligning with my friends at Magnolia and Participant to bring ‘The Grab’ to audiences, as these are companies that not only have a history of embracing fearless storytelling, they have a history of expecting it,” said Cowperthwaite. “These are dream partners for a film whose subject matter pulls no punches, and I feel right at home!”

Magnolia and Participant will debut the film in theaters and on demand on June 14. Variety’s Peter Debruge praised the film after its TIFF debut: “Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s astonishing, eye-opening doc hits us with the idea that the next world war won’t be fought over ideology, oil or border disputes, but basic resources like meat, wheat and water, none of which should be taken for granted.”

Cowperthwaite wrote the script in addition to directing the film. “The Grab” is produced by Center for Investigative Reporting Studios and Rocklin|Faust, Nathan Halverson, Amanda Pike, Blye Pagon Faust, Nicole Rocklin, and Gabriela Cowperthwaite, and presented by Impact Partners. Executive producers are Dan Cogan, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Jenny Raskin, Maiken Baird, Nina & David Fialkow, The Betsy and Jesse Fink Family Foundation, Caldwell Fisher Family Foundation, Doree Friedman, Anil Godhwani, Jan McAdoo, Debbie L. McLeod, Meadow Fund, The Rogovy Foundation, Christa Scharfenberg, Nancy Stephens & Rick Rosenthal, Lessing & Babbie Stern and Jeff & Laurie Ubben. Co-executive producers are Lauren & John Driscoll, Lauren Haber and Kelsey Koenig.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia SVP of Acquisitions John Von Thaden, as well as Participant’s Rob Williams, who serves as SVP of content and sales strategy, and Adam Macy, who acts as senior counsel, business and legal affairs for the company. The film was represented for sale by WME Independent. ROCO Films is handling international sales.

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