‘Darwin’ deal quickly evolves

'Illusionist' in the process of wrapping up a deal

PARK CITY, Utah — “The Darwin Awards,” the last of the Sundance buzz titles to preem, was scooped up Thursday by Bauer Martinez. The pic stars Joseph Fiennes, Winona Ryder, David Arquette and Juliette Lewis.

Deal, which was being rushed together to announce before the fest closes, follows pickups of high-profile titles so far including Michel Gondry’s Gael Garcia Bernal starrer “The Science of Sleep,” Steve Carell starrer “Little Miss Sunshine,” low-budget disaster pic “Right at Your Door” and Robin Williams vehicle “The Night Listener.” Crossword docu “Wordplay” also found a home as the only nonfiction pic to click thus far.

Seen by buyers as a commercial wide release, Edward Norton starrer “The Illusionist” was in the process of wrapping up a deal, but back in Hollywood, where the pic is being pursued by major studios including Universal and New Line.

As of Thursday, Paramount Classics, Focus Features, the Weinstein Co. and Picturehouse had been actively showing interest in various projects but had come away with no pics.

Away from the spotlight, a number of deals for smaller pics continued to percolate, including pacts for “Half-Nelson,” “Foot Fist Way,” “Special,” “The Hawk Is Dying,” “Solo Dios sabe,” “Small Gay Bar” and arty erotica pic “Destricted.”

Docus still in play Thursday included Al Gore’s global-warming treatise “An Inconvenient Truth,” Ralph Nader profile “An Unreasonable Man” and “The World According to Sesame Street.” Kirby Dick’s docu “This Film is Not Yet Rated” was created for cabler IFC but began generating interest from theatrical buyers after its Wednesday preem.

Fest, which officially wraps over the weekend, began winding down Thursday as high-profile execs headed home and the glitzy swag shacks along Main Street were broken down with no celebs to grovel over.

Sundance fest director Geoffrey Gilmore had promised to return the event to its roots this year by picking more indie-flavored titles, and the move seems to have resulted in fewer buys than the past two boom years.

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