Bill Pohlad’s biopic of Brian Wilson lands $3M deal

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Since Bill Pohlad returned to the director’s chair after more than two decades to helm a Brian Wilson biopic, the Minnesota-based filmmaker is seeing results that are likely the envy of even the most tenured in the field.

After Pohlad’s Love & Mercy received a standing ovation and nearly universal praise from critics at its Sunday Toronto International Film Festival debut, Deadline.com reported that Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions emerged from a group of several bidders to acquire U.S. and Canada rights to the film for $3 million.

Pohlad’s chops as a producer — 12 Years A Slave, Into The Wild, Brokeback Mountain — have him established in the film industry, but Love & Mercy is the first movie he directed since 1990’s Old Explorers. That film floated well under the radar and, according to the New York Times, lost money for Pohlad’s friends and family.

Love & Mercy follows the rise of Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson — who also co-produced the film — and his subsequent battles with mental illness. Paul Dano portrays Wilson in his early years and John Cusack plays him later in life as his struggles set in.

“There has been a lot of interest in the film … because Pohlad is such an engaged and tastemaking filmmaker,” Deadline.com wrote Wednesday. 

Twin Cities BusinessThe Los Angeles Times called it a “refreshing surprise” in a well-trod genre. Of tackling a music biopic, Pohlad told the LA Times: “I think every creative person, maybe every person, needs that element of ego or they wouldn’t do something like this. They need that kind of drive,” he said. “I think Brian has what a lot of us have. He just has it in really intense form.”

Pohlad is the son of the late Minnesota Twins owner and business magnate Carl Pohlad. He’s among the multiple bright spots to which Minnesota can lay claim as it works to become more of a player in the film industry. To that end, Pohlad is part of a consortium working to advance a school of cinema production. Meanwhile, the Pohlad Family Foundation funded a 2013 U of M study of the effects such a school can have on nearby metro areas.

This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.

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