Viacom’s Paramount Pictures announced today at the Toronto International Film Festival that it’s picking up Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s decidedly adult stop-motion animated film Anomalisa.
Thanks to the distribution deal, which Deadline reported was over $5 million, the film will arrive in theaters soon: Paramount will release it on December 30 in New York and Los Angeles, before rolling out nationwide. A24 and Sony Pictures Classics also bid on distribution rights for Anomalisa, which has impressed critics and festival audiences alike during the busy fall festival season.
Co-directors Kaufman and Johnson’s Anomalisa recently won the Venice Film Festival’s Grand Jury prize. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival earlier this month.
“The film is a spectacular achievement of artistry, one that we are incredibly pleased to be a part of,” said Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey. “Charlie is a filmmaker of immense vision and craft and he and Duke have created a film that stands alone as one of the year’s best.”
An absurdist tale of a miserable self-help author depressed by the mundanity of his everyday life and in search of idealized love, Anomalisa stars the voices of David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tom Noonan. Johnson and Kaufman adapted Anomalisa from the Being John Malkovich and Kaufman’s play of the same name, staged only twice for composer Carter Burwell’s “Theater of the New Ear” series. Burwell also provides the stop-motion film’s score.
Kaufman and Johnson’s adaptation was originally funded by a Kickstarter campaign, launched by the animation studio Starburns Industries, which also produces Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty. The Kickstarter project raised over $400,000, launching Anomalisa into being, and eventually into Paramount’s orbit. Now that it has found a major distributor, those who don’t frequent the film festival circuit can see for themselves how, or if, Kaufman and Johnson’s existential stop-motion animation is expanding the art form’s parameters and expectations.
“Anomalisa has been a three year labor of love,” co-directors Kaufman and Johnson explained in a statement with producer Rosa Tran. “We are thrilled the film has now found a home at Paramount with people who are passionate about the film and are committed to sharing it with the world.”