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Moon Rivers Yellow gets nearer to release date
jake shapiro 1
Jake Shapiro, right, chairman of the board of FONU2 and Moon River Studios, said the studio has agreed to terms with a distributor for the long-awaited movie Yellow, directed by Nick Cassavetes. The films cast includes Sienna Miller, Ray Liotta, Melanie Griffith, Gena Rowlands and David Morse. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

The critically-acclaimed film “Yellow” now has a distributor to put the movie on screens.

Moon River Studios has announced that Screen Media, based out of New York City, has agreed to be the distributor for the movie.

“We found a great independent film distributor,” said Jake Shapiro, chairman of the board of Moon River Studios. “They had seen the original screening in Toronto. They were very excited. They were very happy when the opportunity came to distribute it.”

“Yellow,” which was shot in 2012 by director Nick Cassavetes, will be released in 10 of the nation’s top 20 markets initially before a national and global release. The first release is set for the first quarter of 2016.

Moon River Studios hired veteran film editor Jim Flynn to work with the film to make it more commercially appealing. Shapiro said there may be minor tweaks Cassavetes, director of “The Notebook” and “The Other Woman,” may make to the final cut. Flynn also had been the editor on “The Other Woman.”

Cassavetes said “Yellow” is the favorite film he has made.

“From Nick Cassavetes, that’s a very strong statement,” Shapiro said. “It’s so unique and I’m so happy to get it out there. It’s definitely a major milestone.”

“Yellow” won best film at the 2013 Catalina Film Festival and was nominated for the grand prix at the 2012 Tokyo International Film Festival.

“It is groundbreaking in terms of humor,” Shapiro said. “We think this version is much more commercial. It is really unlike any film ever made. It is beyond non-generic. I think it has the potential to be an instant cult classic.”

Shapiro also said the reworked deal with the Effingham Industrial Development Authority for the studioplex project will be beneficial for Moon River. The studio and the IDA agreed to reduce the size of the lease from 1,560 acres to 51 acres, in turn reducing the annual lease payments from $555,000 to $51,000.

“We have re-envisioned the entire plan. We’re really happy and feel we’re in the right place we should be, Shapiro said. “Our goal is building the stages. By virtue of the fact our annual lease payment has been reduced by approximately 90 percent takes a tremendous amount of financial pressure off the company. We can now use that capital in investing in the property and investing in the project.”

The plan now calls for building 10 soundstages, along with offices and warehouses, on the property. Shapiro acknowledged that the new scope of the project should make it more attractive for potential investors.

“What was important was to find a win-win for everybody,” he said. “It had to work for the county, in terms of job creation, and it had to work for us as well in terms of we want to have a plan structured for success and beats the expectations. We feel it now passes the smell test and makes it easier to bring in outside capital, because now, it makes sense. It’s much bigger than bite size, but it’s far more manageable and far more financeable.”

The studio will have access to the rest of the property, as long as it’s not in use by another party, for back lots and shooting.

“Back lots are always in need,” Shapiro said. “It’s more than enough for what we need to execute the business plan and demonstrate the success of the business plan to our investors, to the county, to the residents here. It’s a great location. It will have a great impact on us.”

The first phase also includes warehouses from 250,000-300,000 square feet and office buildings from 40,000-80,000 square feet. Under the new plan, the company can shoot from five to eight films per quarter.

“We’re now full steam ahead on phase 1,” Shapiro said. “Hopefully we’ll see tractors on the ground in the next few weeks to see the dream become a tangible reality.”