Lions Gate sweet on ‘Candy’

Sundance sales heat up

This article was updated on Jan. 26, 2005.

Lions Gate Films made a deal valued at about $4 million for David Slade’s drama “Hard Candy,” taking worldwide rights outside the U.K., Spain and Australia. Pic bowed Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival.

A selection of the fest’s Park City at Midnight section, “Hard Candy” is the tale of an unwise cat-and-mouse romance between a teenage girl and an older man that begins on the Internet. Pic stars Ellen Page opposite Patrick Wilson. Critics say the pic is intense, but steers clear of any graphic sexuality that might garner an NC-17 rating.

Overseeing Lions Gate’s Sundance buys are Peter Block, president of acquisitions, television and co-productions, Lions Gate Films Releasing president Tom Ortenberg and Nick Meyer, president of Lions Gate Films Intl., along with senior VP acquisitions Jason Constantine.

William Morris Independent made the “Candy” deal with Roseanne Korenberg and Doug Stone of Traction Media. The arrangement includes a clause that gives the filmmakers 20% of the film’s gross and a significant P&A commitment. Pic was backed by Paul Allen’s Vulcan Prods.

“Lions Gate proved with ‘Saw,’ ‘Open Water’ and ‘Cabin Fever’ that they know exactly what to do with these kinds of movies,” William Morris rep Cassian Elwes said.

David Higgins, Richard Hutton and Michael Caldwell produced the pic, with Jody Patton and Korenberg as exec producers. Brian Nelson and Hans Ritter are co-producers.

Deal marks the second significant fest buy for Lions Gate, which earlier this week picked up worldwide rights on David LaChapelle’s hip-hop doc “Rize.”

Fest acquisitions showed no signs of slowing Tuesday. Next deal expected to close was for Gaby Dellal’s “On a Clear Day,” the tale of a laid-off Glaswegian shipyard employee who changes his life by swimming the English Channel. Pic is part of the World Dramatic Competition.

Sales also are expected for music doc “The Devil and Daniel Johnston,” the David Schwimmer starrer “Duane Hopwood,” John Asher’s “Dirty Love” and Steve Buscemi’s “Lonesome Jim,” as well as for two competition titles, Mike Mills’ “Thumbsucker,” which features Keanu Reeves in a supporting role, and Noah Baumbach’s dysfunctional family drama “The Squid and the Whale,” with buyers planning to take another look at the films today.