The Sundance Film Festival is often a hotbed of deal making and studios and distributors vie with each other to acquire the big hits of the festivals. But the documentary Ask Dr. Ruth, which focuses on famed sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, has secured itself a distribution deal nearly two months before the festival and only a day after it was announced the film would screen at Sundance.
Deadline is reporting that Hulu and Magnolia have picked up the documentary, with Magnolia handling theatrical distribution after which the film will be available on Hulu’s streaming service.
In a statement, Ask Dr. Ruth director Ryan White said –
I’ve been filming Dr. Ruth for the past two years and I can barely keep up with her. At 90, she’s still a force to be reckoned with. It’s an honor to collaborate on her incredible life story.
For her part, Westheimer added –
I’ve never really stopped to examine my life, so when I first saw Ask Dr. Ruth even I was amazed by what has transpired during my ninety years.
Westheimer first came to prominence in the 1980s as the host of late night call-in radio program devoted to sex and human sexuality. Her spunky nature and frank way of answering questions from callers soon made her a popular talk show guest for the likes of David Letterman and Johnny Carson. In addition to writing and publishing 40, Westheimer became a pop culture icon that she even became the focus of an episode of the 1990s time-travel series Quantum Leap.
The acquisition will give Hulu the widest theatrical distribution for one of their documentaries to date. It also looks to be in response to rival Netflix’s own move towards expansion into theatrical distribution prior to premiering their films on their service. Traditionally, Netflix has given a small number of their films limited theatrical distribution and only concurrent with their streaming debuts. But this fall they have given three of their films theatrical runs a handful of weeks before they make their streaming bow.