Focus rides with Sundance ‘Kids’

Film unit close to a deal on comedy

PARK CITY, Utah — Sundance dealmaking looked to be coming to a head Wednesday, with Focus Features in the home stretch to win North American rights to Lisa Cholodenko’s lesbian parenting comedy “The Kids Are All Right,” starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore.

Deal figure hovered around $5 million, with the final tally depending on the overseas territory rights that Focus will snag as part of the package. They included the U.K., Germany and South Africa.

Cinetic brokered the domestic sale, while Inferno is handling foreign sales on the pic.

Pact was nearly two days in the making after the film’s raucous Sundance premiere on Monday night. Among the other parties making a run for the film were Fox Searchlight, Summit, Sony Classics and the Weinstein Co.

Bening and Moore star as moms of a daughter (“Alice in Wonderland’s” Mia Wasikowska) and a son (Josh Hutcherson) who seek out the sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) who fathered the kids. Screenplay was co-written by Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg.

Film played like gangbusters at the Library Center premiere, with lots of laughs and sniffles from the aud.

Virtually every indie distrib and studio specialty buyer was at the screening, including Summit’s Rob Friedman and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein. Introducing the film, fest chief John Cooper noted that if something bad were to happen at the venue that night, “there goes the independent film industry!”

“Kids” unspooled in the fest’s Premiere section, which usually features films that have high-profile casts.

At the preem, Cholodenko said the pic was many years in the making, but that it was a push to ready the film for Sundance. “We did rush to get it over here,” she told the crowd.

Pic’s producers are Gary Gilbert, Jeff Levy-Hinte, Mandalay Vision topper Celine Rattray, Jordan Horowitz and Daniela Taplin Lundberg. Cholodenko’s previous features include “High Art,” distributed by October Films, and “Laurel Canyon,” released by Sony Pictures Classics.

Several other Sundance titles were working to close deals on Wednesday.

In the mix was docu “The Tillman Story,” which has four suitors.

Debra Granik’s dramatic competition pic “Winter’s Bone” had received three offers.

Midnight monster thriller “Splice” was getting closer to a deal, as was Joel Schumacher’s “Twelve.”

Taking a bit longer to find the right home are well-received smaller pics such as “Catfish,” “Blue Valentine,” “Animal Kingdom,” “HappyThankYouMorePlease” and “Abel.”

So far, the only big deal to close at Sundance has been for Rodrigo Cortes’ thriller “Buried.” The Ryan Reynolds starrer went to Lionsgate for around $3.5 million on Sunday evening.

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