Republic Pictures Picks Up Saoirse Ronan Comedy ‘Bad Apples’ & Spyglass’ Horror Rom-Com ‘Heart Eyes’; Dan Cohen Unpacks The Strategy At The Paramount Label

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EXCLUSIVE: Republic Pictures has snagged two more movies, taking global rights to Saoirse Ronan-starrer Bad Apples and international rights to horror rom-com Heart Eyes.

Paramount revived the historic label in 2023 with a remit to acquire third-party fare. Paramount’s Chief Content Licensing Officer, Dan Cohen, is also President of Republic Pictures. He shared the news of its latest acquisitions with Deadline and broke down the strategy at Republic ahead of his keynote at the Monte Carlo TV Festival.

Bad Apples is a satirical comedy with thriller elements. Republic Pictures acquired the Pulse Films-produced movie from HanWay Films. Saoirse Ronan stars as a teacher who accidentally locks the titular bad apple – a badly-behaved student – in her basement, with comedic and dramatic consequences. Based on Rasmus Lindgren’s novel De Oönskade, Jonatan Etzler directs from Jess O’Kane’s script.

“I really want films that I believe can have some theatrical life internationally,” Cohen says. “And this has Saoirse Ronan, a four-time Oscar nominee and great actor playing the lead in a fun British comedy.”

Republic has world rights excluding the U.S. and Canada on Heart Eyes. The horror rom-com is directed by Josh Ruben and stars Cruel Summer actress Olivia Holt and Scream star Mason Gooding. They play co-workers in Seattle, putting in overtime on Valentine’s Day. The pair are mistakenly taken for a couple and pursued by a couple-hunting serial killer.

Spyglass are terrific producers, they know the horror genre inside out,” Cohen says. “Olivia Holt is perfect for this kind of role and so is Mason Gooding who’s been in the Scream movies. I just looked at it and felt like there will be a Valentine’s Day 2025 where I can release this movie.”

The new Republic

Republic was a storied movie label that originally launched in the 1930s and built a reputation for Westerns. The current iteration is a broader banner for movies that will become part of the Paramount Global Content Distribution line-up, Cohen explains.

“We were already acquiring [before reviving Republic], but we weren’t really telling a story. Now, at the LA Screenings, for example, we’re able to play a reel that shows these aren’t disparate, disconnected acquisitions that somehow came through the door; we have a point of view, we’re bringing you cool indie movies, and it’s under Republic Pictures.”

In terms of volume, the label will pick up eight-to-12 movies a year. Asked what will be acquired, Cohen says Republic is “willing to do things that maybe others don’t want to do genre-wise because then you can get better projects.” TV is also part of the story and Cohen is in Monte Carlo with limited series The Gray House, which premiered at the principality’s TV Festival with exec producer Morgan Freeman in attendance.

Paramount’s third-party play

In TV, Paramount acquires and sells shows from producers outside the CBS and Paramount corporate family including, in recent times, The Great, From and Poker Face. Third-party distribution means the sales team can license to anyone, without projects being funneled to its own services like Paramount+, or its joint ventures such as SkyShowtime in Europe.

That’s how Republic shopped the global rights to Bao Nguyen’s “We Are The World” doc The Greatest Night In Pop to Netflix and did a deal with Hulu in the U.S. for Jake Johnson’s film Self Reliance, which stars Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Andy Samberg.

“They went to other streaming services because it was the right answer for the films,” Cohen says. “It was good for my business and there was no controversy because they weren’t made for Paramount.” Other titles, meanwhile, do get snaffled by corporate siblings. William Friedkin’s last film, Kiefer Sutherland-starrer The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, was picked up by Paramount+ with Showtime in the U.S. and SkyShowtime in Europe.

The Paramount Global Content Distribution sales team around the world feeds Republic intel on what international buyers, and notably TV buyers, want and what they will pay.

“We know the marketplace and what we can monetize and at what level,” Cohen says. “The Greatest Night In Pop is a documentary and The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial is a film version of a stage play; those are two things that you don’t always hear are very commercial. I met with Billy Friedkin and said ‘what will it cost?’ He gave me a number and I said if you can actually make it for that, and Kiefer’s in it, it’ll be profitable. With The Greatest Night In Pop, we heard how much they needed to do the film and said if you can produce it for that, we’ll buy it from you.”

TV buyers still want movies

Underpinning the Republic Pictures strategy is continued demand for movies from TV buyers. While U.S. studios can no longer cut huge output deals with international buyers for thousands of hours of content, the appetite for theatrical films remains healthy. The deals are still based on windows related to the theatrical release and performance.

“There’s still a very robust market for pay one [window] and pay two movies, and those will be done as output deals still, and we’ll do them for a few years at a time with a client,” Cohen explains. “Movies remain a very strong performer in television, whether it’s for the newer streaming services, traditional paid services, or free TV.”

Republic’s acquisitions also add bulk to the hungry Paramount Global Content Distribution machine’s line-up. CBS Studios makes TV series in high-volume. In film, Paramount Pictures has huge franchises, but the sales team can handle more titles than it generates.

“Paramount Pictures is making great, big tentpole movies – Mission Impossible, Transformers, Dungeons & Dragons, Bob Marley: One Love – and they really help drive our business, they’re good for our clients, but the volume is modest,” Cohen says. “Supplementing [studio chief] Brian Robbins’ big, global films with some targeted and more indie movies makes for a good combination.”

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