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'On the Road' adaptation gets distribution from IFC, Sundance

May 8, 2012 |  8:10 pm

On the Road
Completing a journey that began in 1978, when filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola bought the rights to Jack Kerouac's classic 1957 Beat novel, "On the Road" is finally headed to U.S. theaters. On Tuesday, AMC Networks announced its acquisition of U.S. rights to the film, which will be jointly distributed by its IFC Films and Sundance Selects labels in the fall.

"On the Road" is directed by the Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles, a road-film veteran who helmed "The Motorcycle Diaries," with Coppola serving as executive producer. It stars Sam Riley ("Brighton Rock") as the young writer Sal Paradise and Garrett Hedlund ("Tron: Legacy") as his free-spirited friend Dean Moriarty; Paradise and Moriarty are thinly veiled counterparts of Kerouac and pal Neal Cassady in the largely autobiographical story of cross-country road-tripping.

"Twilight" star Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst (a frequent collaborator with Coppola's daughter, Sofia), Amy Adams ("The Muppets") and Viggo Mortensen ("A Dangerous Method") round out the cast.

Despite the presence of young stars such as Stewart and Dunst, as well as the attachment of a big name like Coppola, "On the Road's" landing at IFC and Sundance could lower expectations for the film's performance, as neither label is known for setting the box office on fire. According to Box Office Mojo, only three IFC or Sundance films have ever surpassed $5 million in total gross: "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Cave of Forogtten Dreams."

In a prepared statement, Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects and IFC Films, said they would put "all our resources together to make this theatrical release into a significant cultural event."

"On the Road" will make its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in the competition section. The festival runs May 16-27.


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— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Sam Riley, left, Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund in "On the Road." Credit: Gregory Smith / MK2

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