Company eyes summer release for Sundance pic

PARK CITY, Utah — Only hours before Debra Granik’s “Winter’s Bone” won top honors at the Sundance Film Festival Saturday night, Roadside Attractions won a bidding war for all North American distribution rights to the drama-thriller, toplining Jennifer Lawrence.

Roadside, run by indie veterans Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff, paid in the low- to mid-six figure range for “Winter’s Bone,” which won the fest’s Grand Jury Prize for a feature.

Film also won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award, going to Granik and Anne Rosellini.

Roadside closed its deal midday. One suitor came in at the 11th hour with a higher offer, but the filmmakers decided to stick with Roadside, saying it offered up the best plan to release and market the film.

Submarine’s Josh Braun, who’s repping the title, has been fielding interest since “Winter’s Bone” premiered a week ago. Those circling included Samuel Goldwyn Films, Sony Pictures Classics, Apparition and the Weinstein Co, although not all submitted official bids.

Roadside is eyeing a summer theatrical release. Pic will be distributed in Canada by Maple Pictures, Roadside’s partner.

“Winter’s Bone” was produced by Anonymous Content and Winter’s Bone Prods. Producers are Alix Madigan-Yorkin and Rosellini.

Film drew strong notices throughout the fest, particularly for Lawrence’s performance. Set against the brutal poverty of the Ozarks, storyline revolves around a 17-year-old girl who, tough beyond her years, goes in search of her father, a meth-dealer who has jumped bail and put the family’s home in danger of being taken away.

“With ‘Winter’s Bone,’ Debra Granik has crafted a classic detective story, a nail-biting thriller and an unbelievably touching family drama, all in one film,” Roadside head of acquisitions and business affairs Dustin Smith said. “It is everything Sundance is about.”

“Down to the Bone,” Granik’s last feature, also was a Sundance favorite and is credited for launching Vera Farmiga’s film career.

“Winter’s Bone” (not a sequel) was adapted by Granik and Rosellini from Missouri-based author Daniel Woodrell’s tome. Film also stars John Hawkes and Dale Dickey, as well as a number of first-time actors living in and around where the film was shot in the Ozarks.

Exec producers are Jonathan Scheuer and Shawn Simon.

“Winter’s Bone” will make its international premiere next month in official selection at the Berlin Film Festival.

Deal was brokered by Smith and Cohen for Roadside, and Braun and Jason Janego for Submarine.

The Roadside pact came on a busy second weekend for Sundance. Usually, dealmaking slows in the final days of the fest, but not this year.

Other Submarine titles nearing distribution deals include feature “The Freebie” and documentaries “Countdown to Zero,” about the possibility of nuclear disaster, and “Joan Rivers–A Piece of Work.”

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