Deal marks an important buy for the mini-major

Focus Features has scooped up worldwide rights to first-time helmer Dee Rees’ LGBT-themed drama “Pariah” in a high six-figure bid, sources say.

Deal marks an important buy for the mini-major as questions linger as to the future of the label given the recent shake-up at parent conglom NBC Universal. This is the first Sundance buy for Focus this year.

As part of the deal, Focus also has commissioned Rees’ next feature script in an attempt to bolster the label’s stable of filmmakers. “Pariah,” which was expanded from the helmer’s same-titled short, centers on a teenager in Brooklyn struggling with her sexuality. Pic preemed opening night at Sundance in the fest’s U.S. Dramatic competish.

Deal was negotiated by Focus’ head of business affairs Avy Eschenasy, as well as Cinetic Media’s John Sloss and Bart Walker and Victoria Cook of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein Selz on behalf of the filmmakers.

Focus has made good with LGBT-themed pics, including “Brokeback Mountain” and last year’s Sundance hit “The Kids Are All Right.” The mini-major picked up “Beginners,” about an elderly father who comes out to his son with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, at last year’s Toronto Film Fest.

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