You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lionsgate digs ‘Buried’ at Sundance

Fest filled with interesting twists to the usual routine

PARK CITY, UTAH — In the first major feature pickup of the Sundance Film Festival, Lionsgate has acquired North American rights to Ryan Reynolds’ thriller “Buried,” about a private contractor who is kidnapped in Iraq and buried alive.

Insiders say the price tag was in the $3 million to $4 million range.

Directed by Spanish helmer Rodrigo Cortes, written by Chris Sparling and produced by Peter Safran, the film whipped up a flurry of interest among buyers after making its world premiere late Saturday night. Pic was repped by UTA, and was produced by Safran and Adrian Guerra.

” ‘Buried’ is one of the tightest, most intense thrillers we’ve ever seen, and we were absolutely determined to bring it home to Liosngate,” said Jason Constantine, prexy of acquisitions and co-productions at Lionsgate. He and Lionsgate co-chief operating office Joe Drake announced the deal.

Cortes said the deal with Lionsgate ensures that the film will be released with the strongest possible impact. “So it’s a very natural fit,” he said.

Fox Searchlight was reportedly among the other potential bidders for “Buried.” Searchlight staff who didn’t catch the latenight screening on Saturday went to a screening of the film in nearby Salt Lake City on Sunday.

The speed with which the deal was made defies recent history. Buyers are taking longer and longer to finalize distribution deals for films playing at festivals. A prime example of the slower dealmaking process came on Saturday, when a distrib deal was announced for “Paper Man,” a Jeff Daniels-Ryan Reynolds starrer that premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June of last year.

Other than “Buried,” deal-making is slow so far at Sundance, but there are some interesting twists to the usual routine.

One of the new trends: The major studios are popping up among the pool of buyers. Prints are being flown back to Los Angeles of buzzy titles, including Josh Radnor’s “HappyThankYouMorePlease,” which has caught the eye of top Warner Bros. execs.

Another variation: Filmmakers are stepping up efforts to pack their screenings at Sundance with enthusiastic crowds, to show there’s an audience for their film.

In an innovative grass-roots marketing campaign, the team behind documentary “His & Hers” reached out to 250 people at churches and temples around Utah to spread the word about the film’s positive message and to lure them to screenings. The first two unspoolings of the Irish docu were packed. The pic interviews a variety of women about their relationships with the men in their lives, including fathers to husbands.

That technique points to the one of the chief concerns of buyers: a film’s marketability.

Last year’s Sundance grand prize and audience winner “Precious” didn’t make a distribution deal until the festival was closing, because that film, like many of this year’s entries, had a downbeat subject matter that confounded some marketers.

One of the first high-profile movies to premiere at the fest this year was John Wells’ “The Company Men,” featuring a starry cast, including Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Costner. Movie has plenty of pedigree, but buyers and their marketers are grappling with how to sell the gloomy storyline, which, like “Up in the Air,” revolves around layoffs and downsizing.

Other titles that have screened and are generating heat include Debra Granik’s drama “Winter’s Bone” and writer/director Eli Craig’s comedy “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.”

As usual, documentaries are whipping up as much interest as narrative features, if not more. That pack includes fest darling “Catfish” and “The Tillman Story.”

Deal for “Buried” was negotiated for Lionsgate by Constantine, senior VP of acqusitions and co-productions Eda Kowan and exec VP of business and legal affairs Wendy Jaffe; UTA’s Independent Film Group acted on behalf of the filmmakers.

More Film

  • Robert Iger and Rupert Murdochcredit: Disney

    Wall Street Applauds as Disney Nears Finish Line on Fox Acquisition

    Wall Street is rooting for Disney as the media giant reaches the finish line this week in its 15-month quest to acquire most of Rupert Murdoch’s film and TV empire. Fox shareholders, on the other hand, are being a little more cautious. Disney is poised to close the $71.3 billion deal that took many twists [...]

  • Personal Tales From Hong Kong, China

    Personal Tales From Hong Kong and China Among the Asia Film Financing Forum Projects

    A brace of personal tales from China and Hong Kong are among the 23 projects vying for attention at the 17th Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. Liu Miaomiao is a rare female ethnic Hui Muslim filmmaker. She came to international prominence with 1993’s “Chatterbox” that won the President of the Italian Senate’s Gold Medal [...]

  • Josie Ho Makes 2019 the Year

    Josie Ho Makes 2019 the Year She Takes Risks in Her Film Choices

    Josie Ho vows to master the art of calculated risk in the year 2019. As an actress and film producer, she is conscious of the choices of projects she makes: appearing in the new film by Japanese hotshot director Shinichiro Ueda, producing a new documentary feature while developing some 10 titles in the pipeline of [...]

  • FilMart: Big Data, Content Key to

    FilMart: Big Data, Content Key to iQIYI's Online Ambitions

    Tech and data play a huge role for iQIYI, China’s second-largest streaming platform, as a way to innovate and step out ahead of its competitors, iQIYI founder and CEO Yu Gong explained in a keynote speech Monday at FilMart. “We don’t see a lot of innovation-driven entertainment companies yet. We want to be the one,” [...]

  • Ted Sarandos and Thierry Fremaux'Okja' photocall,

    Despite Ongoing Peace Talks, Netflix Won't Have Any Movies at Cannes 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    Although Netflix and the Cannes Film Festival continue quietly to negotiate a potential settlement to their differences, the streaming giant will be absent from the Croisette again this year with no film in or out of competition, Variety has learned. The ongoing talks between the two sides have been friendly, including a dinner in Los [...]

  • Series Mania Showcases Shlomi Elkabetz-Produced Series

    Series Mania to Showcase Shlomi Elkabetz-Produced Series 'The Dreamers'

    “The Dreamers,” one of the series to be presented at Series Mania’s Co-Pro Pitching Sessions, is a 10-part crime comedy produced by prominent Israeli filmmaker Shlomi Elkabetz (“Gett”) and Galit Cachlon at Deux Beaux Garcons Films. Produced for Israeli cable TV operator HOT, the series will be directed by Maysaloun Hamoud, a young Hungarian-born Palestinian [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content