Nick Hornby romance stars Carey Mulligan

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American and Latin American rights for under $3 million to Lone Scherfig’s “An Education” after a heated bidding war.

The deal closed Monday night.

After the first screening Sunday, Fox Searchlight tried to grab the film with an early preemptive bid, but the offer in the $1-2 million range was deemed too low by sellers CAA and Endgame Entertainment, which financed with BBC Films the $12-million 60s romance.

Written by Nick Hornby from a memoir by Lynn Barber, “An Education” stars Sundance “It Girl” Carey Mulligan as a 16-year-old British schoolgirl who falls hard for a charming older man played by Peter Sarsgaard. Dominic Cooper and Alfred Molina also star.

Fox Searchlight came back into the negotiation on a second round Monday but was unable to close. Instead, on Monday night the company acquired “Adam,” starring Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy. Also bidding on “An Education” were The Weinstein Co., Focus Features, Lionsgate and Overture.

SPC, which closed recent deals out of the Toronto Film Festival with Endgame CEO Jim Stern on “Easy Virtue” and his “Chorus Line” documentary “Every Little Step,” will launch the film in the fall with an eye on an awards campaign.

Sundance buyers are also circling Shana Feste’s drama “The Greatest,” starring Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon, Bobcat Goldthwait’s “World’s Greatest Dad,” starring Robin Williams, and producer-star Ashton Kutcher’s “Spread.” CAA had hoped to close a deal before fest’s end on “September Issue,” the popular documentary about Vogue’s Anna Wintour, which several distribs are interested in, including Senator Entertainment, which started off the fest with its acquisition of Antoine Fuqua’s “Brooklyn’s Finest.”

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