MUBI Buys Sundance Movie ‘Pleasure,’ About L.A. Porn Business, For Major European Markets (EXCLUSIVE)

Manori Ravindran
·3-min read

Global distributor, producer and streamer MUBI has snapped up major European markets for hot Sundance title “Pleasure,” which delves into the world of the porn industry in Los Angeles.

The service has acquired all rights to the provocative film in the U.K., Ireland, Italy and Turkey. Directed by Ninja Thyberg, the film recently received its world premiere as part of Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

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Starring newcomer Sofia Kappel, “Pleasure” tells the story of a young woman (Bella Cherry) who moves from a small town in Sweden to Los Angeles in pursuit of stardom, and lands squarely in the porn industry. Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman praised “Pleasure” in his review, calling it an “intentionally stark” and “disturbingly authentic” look at what the porn industry has become.

“A movie like ‘Pleasure’ jerks the skeevy, compulsive porn world out of the closet in a way that few movies have,” Gleiberman wrote. “That’s a brave thing to do, and what makes it work is that Ninja Thyberg, revealing the instincts of a true filmmaker, uses her characters to discover the things she’s telling us.”

Thyberg made a short film with the same title that premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2013 and Sundance the year after. The short was then expanded into a feature-length effort.

A24 snapped up rights to the film — which is produced by Plattform Produktion and Eliza Jones, Markus Waltå, and Erik Hemmendorff — earlier this week. Versatile is handling sales for international rights

Speaking to Variety about the film in a wide-ranging interview, director Ninja Thyberg said she carried out extensive research into the inner-workings of the industry. “I wanted to find the real people behind the stereotypes and I wanted to see it for myself with my own eyes, so it took me quite a long time to dig my way into this world and get to know it from the inside. I had to do a lot of research and spend a lot of time in the porn industry.”

Pape Boye and Violaine Pichon of Versatile are executive producers on the film. Meanwhile, Leontine Petit and Erik Glijnis of Lemming Film co-produced, along with Grand Slam Film, Peter Possne and Caroline Ljungberg of Film i Väst; Anna Croneman of SVT; and Frédéric Fiore and Eric Tavitian of Logical Pictures.

MUBI recently picked up 2020 Sundance entry “Farewell Amor,” which debuted on the service in December.

The platform, which has also moved extensively into the producing space, has several projects in development. Announced titles on the outfit’s production slate include “Our Men,” directed by Rachel Lang (“Baden Baden”), starring Louis Garrel (“Rifkin’s Festival”) and Camille Cottin (“Call My Agent”), and a true crime feature documentary directed by David Farrier (“Tickled”).

MUBI is also an executive producer on Nicolas Winding Refn’s upcoming series “Maniac Cop,” created in partnership with HBO and Canal Plus. MUBI co-production “Port Authority,” directed by Danielle Lessovitz, played several festivals in 2019, including Cannes, Goteborg, Thessaloniki and Deauville.

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