Magnolia Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to “Kokomo City,” the feature directorial debut of Grammy-nominated producer, singer and songwriter D. Smith. The pact comes after the film’s world premiere in Sundance’s Next section. It marks Magnolia’s second acquisition at the festival, following its pickup of “Little Richard: I Am Everything.”
Smith filmed and edited the look at four transgender Black sex workers in Atlanta and New York City – Daniella Carter, Koko Da Doll, Liyah Mitchell and Dominique Silver. “Kokomo City” was executive produced by Lena Waithe. It will next screen at Berlin Panorama. Magnolia will release the film theatrically this year.
“’Kokomo City’ is a miraculous cinematic debut by D. Smith,” said Eamonn Bowles, president of Magnolia Pictures. “Hilarious, revelatory and wildly entertaining, and with a soundtrack for the ages, the film demolishes preconceived notions and announces a major multi-talent to the film world. We can’t wait to bring it to audiences.”
“Before this film, the trans narrative has created barriers that kept us isolated from humanity,” said D. Smith. “My hope is that this film will create a chain reaction of people seeing the full humanity of trans women.”
Sundance’s market has been relatively slow going this year. Earlier, Netflix picked up rights in the U.S. and numerous international territories to “Run Rabbit Run,” a thriller starring Sarah Snook. But things could heat up with recent premieres such as “Eileen,” a thriller with Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie, and “Fair Play,” a suspenseful drama with Alden Ehrenreich, attracting interest from buyers.
“Kokomo City” is produced by Smith, Harris Doran and Bill Butler. Executive producers are Waithe, Rishi Rajani, Stacy Barthe and William Melillo.
The deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and SVP of Acquisitions John Von Thaden. CAA Media Finance represented the filmmakers.