Miramax says ‘Yes’

PARK CITY, Utah – Filmmaker Mark Waters’ “The House of Yes,” a dark comedy about blue-blooded incest, sold to Miramax Films for just under $2 million Saturday night. Waters’ directorial debut stars Parker Posey as a suicidal coquette who dresses like Jackie Kennedy and finds reenacting the events at Dallas’ Dealey Plaza with her twin brother (Josh Hamilton) strangely erotic.

Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein screened the film privately and snapped up the coveted North American, U.K. and Mexican rights from Spelling Films and the pic’s up-and-coming producers, Beau Flynn and Stefan Simchowitz of Bandeira Entertainment. For Flynn, a Scott Rudin alumnus, and Simchowitz, the sale marks a triumphant return to the fest. Last year, they sold Scott Silver’s “johns” to First Look Pictures. The company recently completed the romantic comedy “Little City,” which stars Jon Bon Jovi and Penelope Ann Miller.

‘A lot of interest’

“There was a lot of interest from several distributors in ‘The House of Yes,’ but we decided to go with Miramax after hearing how much they loved the film and hearing their marketing concept for the movie,” Flynn said.

Added Simchowitz: “We’ve admired what Miramax has done for other films like ‘Heavenly Creatures,’ ‘Flirting With Disaster’ and ‘Trainspotting’ that combine issues with edgy humor.”

To put the $2 million acquisition price into some perspective, “Shine” sold last year for $2.5 million, although for more territiories.

Miramax’s VPs of acquisitions and co-productions Amy Israel and Jason Blum, who had been tracking the project since the script stage, brought the pic into the company. Spelling was repped on negotiations by Mitch Horwits, president of Spelling Films, and Denis Pregnolato, senior VP of production and acquisitions.

Director to sign

The pic, based on Wendy MacLeod’s play, also stars Freddie Prinze Jr. as Posey and Hamilton’s younger brother. Genevieve Bujold plays the widowed matriarch of the disturbed clan, and Tori Spelling rounds out the cast as the sweet fiancee who stumbles into the family’s claustrophobic, psycho-sexual web during one storm-drenched Thanksgiving.

Waters, who is the brother of screenwriter Dan Waters, has now become the director to sign for the slew of agents here. While the movie retained the stagy banter of the play, audience members were impressed by the writer-director’s ability to navigate transitions from comic to tragic moments – often within the same scenes.

Other competition films without distribution that sparked interest from acquisition executives here include Tim Nelson’s drama about a waitress and an ex-con called “Eye of God”; Morgan J. Freeman’s portrait of bad boys in Lower Manhattan, “Hurricane”; and Neil LaBute’s “In the Company of Men.”

LaBute’s low-budget pic, about two junior executives who go on a misogynous rampage while on temporary assignment to a Midwestern town, impressed many of the younger studio executives who caught either the Friday- or Saturday-night screening.

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