S'dance streak grows as Par units pays $1 mil

In the first-ever acquisition of an Asian-American film from Sundance, Paramount-based MTV Films has ponied up just under $1 million for North American distribution rights to Justin Lin’s fest entry “Better Luck Tomorrow.”

Deal also includes another project commitment between MTV and Lin.

Pic, which sparked heated debate at its packed Jan. 16 screening at the fest (Daily Variety, Jan. 22), angering some audience members due to its depiction of Asian-Americans as frustrated high school kids in a world that seems to force an overachiever identity upon them.

“Tomorrow” uses crime film techniques to explore modern identity and cultural issues among some upper-middle-class kids. It stars Parry Shen, Jason Tobin, Sung Kang, Roger Fan and Karin Anna Cheung.

Produced by Julie Asato, pic was exec produced by Gustavo Spoliansky and Michael Manshel, directed by Lin and penned by Ernesto Foronda, Lin and Fabian Marquez. Micah Green of Cinetic Media and Jeff Dowd brokered deal on behalf of filmmakers with MTV Films.

Film is latest in a string of high-profile pickups from this year’s fest, with more than 14 pics finding distribution.

Pickup for MTV Films also follows in footsteps of label working with such filmmakers as Spike Jonze, Alexander Payne (“Election”) and Spike Lee, and it furthers the company’s goal of releasing a diverse slate of pics. Most recent was “Orange County”; others have included “Save the Last Dance,” “Varsity Blues” and “The Original Kings of Comedy.” Upcoming is next month’s release of the Britney Spears feature “Crossroads.”

Other companies to acquire Sundance pics since fest’s end include Paramount Classics, which picked up multiple distribution rights to “Bloody Sunday,” and IFC Films, which nabbed North American distribution rights to “XX/XY.”

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