“Magazine Dreams,” a buzzy drama starring Jonathan Majors, landed at Searchlight Pictures following its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Elijah Bynum wrote and directed the movie, about an aspiring bodybuilder named Killian Maddox, who abuses steroids in his quest to become a sports icon. “Magazine Dreams” premiered on Jan. 20 at the Eccles Theater in Park City. The festival wrapped last month, but the film later sparked a bidding war between Neon, Sony Pictures Classics and HBO, according to Deadline, which broke the news of the sale.
“We are very proud to bring Elijah’s powerful film to the world,” said Searchlight presidents Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum. “Jonathan’s tour-de-force performance, both physically and emotionally, affected us in profound ways.”
The specialty studio intends to announce additional release plans at a later date.
Out of Sundance, Searchlight also spent $8 million on “Theater Camp,” a loving satire about musical nerds, starring Ben Platt, Molly Gordon and Noah Galvin.
Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman praised “Magazine Dreams” for its “highly orchestrated style, with each lustrous image flowing into the next.” He added, “scenes […] play out slowly, naturalistically, but are charged with such tension that at moments you may find you’ve stopped breathing.” Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige and Mike O’Hearn co-star.
Majors consumed roughly 6,000 calories each day in order to transform into the character, who has a perfectly chiseled physique.
“I’m 6 feet tall. I’m 202 pounds,” he told Variety prior to the film’s premeire. “In order to sustain that and grow, I ate 6,100 calories a day for about four months.”
The actor, who appears next as the villainous Kang the Conqueror in Disney’s Marvel adventure “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” also constantly visited the gym to get jacked.
“The normal bodybuilder works out two times a day,” Majors said. “I would train two hours, two times a day for the movie and a third time after wrap. Meanwhile, you eat six times a day. Lots of chicken. Lots of elk. I like it.”
In addition to leading the film, Majors also served as executive producer through his company Tall Street Productions.
“Magazine Dreams” is the latest big sale out of Sundance. During the festival, Netflix shelled out $20 million for “Fair Play,” a suspenseful workplace drama starring Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor; while Magnolia nabbed worldwide rights to the documentary “Little Richard: I Am Everything.” Netflix also landed “Run Rabbit Run,” a thriller starring Sarah Snook. Variety also announced that Sony Pictures Classics nabbed the rights to “Shayda,” the audience award winner in the world cinema dramatic category.
CAA Media Finance brokered the deal with Searchlight execs Paul Hoffman and Chan Phung.