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‘Dance buyers in ‘Groove’

SPC picks up rave pic for $1.5 mil

VISIT VARIETY’S SUNDANCE 2000

PARK CITY, Utah — There hasn’t been much snowfall in Park City yet, but there has been a flurry of acquisitions activity.

Sony Pictures Classics struck first on Saturday, closing a deal for all worldwide rights to “Groove,” the rave film from director Greg Harrison. SPC paid $1.5 million, outbidding Trimark Pictures. Fox Searchlight Pictures was also said to be interested, but dropped out early.

Deal was negotiated by UTA and Alex Kolmer of Manatt, Phelps.

At 2 a.m. Sunday, as some of the parties were just heating up, Artisan Entertainment snatched “Chuck & Buck,” Miguel Arteta’s second Sundance film. Pic concerns two childhood best friends who meet again as adults and have to exorcise their seemingly innocent past. Summit Entertainment picked up foreign.

“Chuck” became an early festival fave because it stars “American Pie” creators Chris and Paul Weitz, whose deadpan delivery had the audience in stitches at the Library Center premiere screening Friday night. Artisan and Summit are believed to have paid just south of $1.5 million for the pic, somewhat less than the $2 million pricetag for Arteta’s earlier Sundance entry, “Star Maps.”

Written by Michael White, “Chuck” also stars White, a former supervising producer of “Dawson’s Creek” and currently the supervising producer of NBC’s “Freaks and Geeks.” Film’s producer is Matthew Greenfield, with Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente serving as exec producers.

Artisan sensibility

“Sundance has continued to present us with quality films that fit into the Artisan sensibility from a financial, content and marketing perspective,” noted Artisan prexy Amir Malin. ” ‘Chuck and Buck’ is a unique movie with a strong voice.”

“I found the film to be hilarious, emotional and extremely provocative with great international potential,” added Summit CEO Patrick Wachsberger.

WMA reps Arteta. The sale was negotiated by Lichter and Carlos Goodman of Lichter, Grossman, Nichols and Adler, along with Artisan’s Malin and senior veep Patrick Gunn, as well as Wachsberger.

Other pics expected to sell within the next few days include “Girlfight,” from director Karyn Kusama, in which Fine Line and Miramax are said to be strongly interested, and Raymond Defelitta’s “Two Family House,” in which Lions Gate and USA Films are said to be interested.

‘Sex’ can sell

Other films expected to sell by fest’s end are Henry Bromell’s “Panic” and Val Breiman’s steamy autobiographical pic, “Love and Sex,” which preems Sunday night.

Short films are generating dot-com frenzy. “Los Gringos,” a 6 minuter by director Rob Letterman, sold to Mediatrip.com.

The dot-com invasion isn’t just about film acquisitions: They’ve usurped the party scene. On Saturday, IFilm’s party at Ciseros was already jammed at its 11 p.m. starting time, with hard-nosed doormen preventing even senior execs from entering. Excite.com threw a bash at the Silver Mine that skewed younger. The hottest party ticket turned out to be Andrew Lazar’s Deer Valley condo party, where such actors as Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Neve Campbell, Heather Graham and boyfriend Ed Burns, and Emilio Estevez mingled past 3 a.m., fighting for breathing space and anything to drink.

Interactive fans

At Harry O’s on Main Street, the Interactive Lounge — hosted by Showbizdata.com, Entertaindom and Sun Microsystems and featuring Web demos by such sites as Lorne Michael’s Burly Bear and EBay — has already emerged as a fave hangout for younger festgoers. With 30 computer kiosks where visitors can play games, surf the Web or check e-mail, and a coffee bar in the center of a spacious room, the setting is a blessed respite from the long ticket lines and crowded parties.

‘Psycho’ drama

The Friday night premiere of Mary Harron’s “American Psycho” was the first Hollywood-type event, complete with local and national TV crews seeking to gauge how the thrill-killer pic went down with the crowd. Scalpers had a field day, gouging unlucky would-be auds, and a fleet of very 1980s limos lined the curb.

Auds reacted with loud guffaws of ironic recognition to such yuppie hallmarks as five-pound cell phones, sartorial fetishism and Huey Lewis and the News played at max volume. While audiences liked such things, most viewers over 35 who hadn’t read Bret Easton Ellis’ book had mixed feelings about the movie. Lions Gate is unspooling the pic in April, attempting to capitalize on early buzz and the controversy that comes with showing rough sex and chain-saw massacres on camera. The company is appealing the MPAA’s NC-17 rating, which may keep the pic from reaching the intended 1,100-screen audience.

(Dan Cox contributed to this report.)

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