Total spending up despite drop in deals

Total spending on Sundance films through Sunday appeared to rep a slight uptick from 2008, though there was a notable lack of a marquee deals to set tongues wagging.

There were also plenty of big titles — like Jim Carrey-Ewan McGregor comedy “I Love You Phillip Morris” and multi-prize-winner “Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire” — that still did not have pacts.

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group played a role in two big buys. It took video rights in Senator’s $5 million pickup of “Brooklyn’s Finest.” The unit also paid just shy of $2 million for “Black Dynamite,” a blaxploitation satire that scored in the Midnight section, with plans to partner with a theatrical distrib down the road.

In three major tussles, Anchor Bay paid $3.5 million for Ashton Kutcher gigolo tale “Spread,” Sony Classics shelled out $3 million for North American and Latin American rights to “An Education” and Magnolia got “Humpday” for mid-six figures.

IFC maintained its acquisitive ways, as many predicted, scooping up starry farce “In the Loop” and Norwegian horror pic “Dead Snow.” The company also announced a new VOD day-date plan with the South by Southwest film fest.

Early Sunday, Arthouse Films capped the acquisition announcements with news it bought “Art & Copy,” a competition doc about the ad biz.

Sundance organizers said total ticket sales through Thursday gained 5.5% over last year. The number of journalists attending dipped to 1,100 from 1,200 in 2008, as the traditional outlets’ paring back offset an increase in Web coverage.

(Anne Thompson contributed to this report.)

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