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Topher Grace’s Kids in America to Be Freed From Captivity

Topher Grace, Anna Faris, and Michelle Trachtenberg have all been in movie limbo for the last three years, but they're about to be liberated! Three years ago, Grace — having just left That ‘70s Show — embarked on a new career in screenwriting. It didn't go so smoothly. In 2007, he starred in and executive produced Kids in America, an eighties period drama he’d co-written about a recent MIT grad so disgusted by the rampant materialism of the era that he bails on a high-paying entry-level job at a laboratory to become a video-store clerk. Heavyweights Ron Howard and Brian Grazer produced. What could go wrong?

Grace's Kids was one of a handful of films (which also included Wes Craven's forthcoming horror movie, My Soul to Take) that was financed by Relativity Media, the independent company that supplies financing to many studios in Hollywood, but was intended to be distributed by Universal. It seems the film got caught up in a tangled web of corporate deal-making between Relativity and Universal.

In December 2008, Relativity acquired Rogue Pictures, the genre label of Universal's Focus Features, which may have delayed its release. Then, in June, Relativity reached a deal with cable mogul John Malone's Starz Media to acquire the motion picture marketing distribution arms of Starz's movie studio, Overture Films. Insiders tell Vulture that a resolution is now being worked out with Universal that will likely have Relativity-financed films like the Bradley Cooper thriller The Dark Fields and the long-moldering Kids finally released by Relativity's newly acquired team of ex–Overture Films marketing and distribution executives.

Calls to Overture and Imagine Entertainment were not returned. A spokeswoman for Universal referred queries to a Relativity spokesman, who declined comment but said that a formal announcement about Kids' fate would be forthcoming shortly, possibly as early as today.

Still, insiders tell Vulture that Kids still has a hard row to hoe, even if it winds up being released by Relativity: It's aimed squarely at the post-college-aged crowd, which is a tough market to reach because brand-new grads usually have less free time and discretionary income to spend on going to the movies in the best of times.

For another, these aren't the best of times: Older workers' 401Ks have been decimated, and they're hanging onto their jobs longer, curtailing entry-level hires. A movie about a principled slacker walking out of a well-paying first job just because big paychecks offend his delicate sensibilities may not be so well-received by the current crop of grads — many of whom would be willing to lick the boss's car clean for a paying gig with health benefits.

(This kinda reminds us of the situation Jerry Bruckheimer found himself in with Confessions of a Shopaholic last year, releasing a comedy about profligate acquisitiveness and brand addiction just as the nation found itself in the teeth of the nastiest recession in 60 years. Oy.)

Finally, we hear Kids' title will likely be changed, possibly owing to confusion and copyright issues with another lesser-known but similarly titled film from 2005.

All that said, unlike so many films left rotting in the can, we hear Kids isn't a bad movie. It's got a great young cast, too: Gossip Girl's Michelle Trachtenberg, The House Bunny's Anna Faris (as Grace's twin sister), and The Sorcerer's Apprentice's Teresa Palmer, who plays Grace's love interest.

So we're actually kind of curious to see how Kids in America will be sold — and if the actual kids in America will buy it when it is.

Update: Relativity confirms they'll release it in March of next year.

Photo: Relativity