Utopia, a North American distributer and sales outfit founded in 2018 by Robert Schwartzman and Cole Harper, has been establishing itself as a company with a unique cinematic palette and a knack for spotting indie projects ahead of the curve. From breakout hits like “Shiva Baby” to more recent acquisitions like “Holy Spider” and “Femme,” Utopia has been making waves in the film industry. In 2024, Utopia made its first foray into the U.K. market with the release of “The Sweet East,” a surrealist satirical take on the American Dream directed by cinematographer Sean Price Williams.

“The Sweet East” premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight to positive reviews, prompting Utopia to acquire U.S. and Canadian rights for the film. The company implemented a unique distribution strategy, including a roadshow theatrical approach for the road movie, which proved to be successful. Despite limited screenings, the film has grossed over $320,000 in the U.S. and continues to perform well, with a new 35mm print now touring.

Capitalizing on the success of “The Sweet East,” Utopia announced its acquisition of U.K. rights for the film to tap into the growing conversation surrounding the movie in the U.S. The company’s strong relationships in the U.K. market played a role in this decision, as did the increasing interest from British audiences. Utopia’s U.K. release strategy mirrors its U.S. approach, with a focus on independent and art-focused venues, starting with sell-out screenings in London.

Aside from “The Sweet East,” Utopia has also made moves in the U.K. market through its boutique label Circle Collective, focusing on arthouse theatrical and physical media releases. Additionally, the company is considering expanding its presence in the U.K. with potential future releases and acquisitions. Greenberg emphasizes the importance of curating campaigns for films, leveraging existing relationships, and being opportunistic in supporting filmmakers.

Looking ahead, Utopia has its eye on additional projects for potential U.K. releases and plans to build on its success in both the U.S. and U.K. markets. With a focus on strategic curation and seizing opportunities in the film licensing landscape, Utopia aims to continue its role as a forward-thinking and innovative distributor in the ever-evolving film industry. As the company expands its reach, it remains committed to supporting filmmakers and ensuring their work reaches audiences in a timely and impactful manner.

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