Sundance forecast: light snow, steady buzz

Fest opens with positive reactions to early screenings

Park City, Utah– As the snow fell on Park City last night, the mood around town was alight with good buzz for a few titles already screened.

Though buyers stayed relatively quiet all day Friday, industryites aren’t fretting yet with this year’s fest likely to resemble more of a marathon than a sprint as the first weekend kicks off.

Opening night pic “The Guard,” an Irish buddy comedy with Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, currently is on the top of most buyers’ lists. The film has garnered interest from six top players, including buyers from Sony, Summit and the Weinstein Co., sources say, who were all in attendance for the pic at opening night.

First-time director Dee Rees’ opening nighter “Pariah,” which screened to a full house in the U.S. dramatic competish, earned solid reviews but has yet to parlay that into as much interest as other fest entries.

Other titles with steady buzz include thesp Elizabeth Olsen’s Sundance pair “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Silent House,” an English remake of the Uruguayan “La Casa Muda,” the second pic from the “Open Water” helmers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau.

Miranda July’s second directorial effort, “The Future,” screened Friday evening with mixed reactions for its commercial prospects, yet was unilaterally deemed a “perfect Sundance picture.”

Along with “Future,” two additional out of competish preems, “Win Win” and “Margin Call,” screened Friday. Paul Giamatti starrer “Win Win,” a Fox Searchlight production, drew plenty of fest goers to its after-party all enjoying positive reactions.

Attendees were high on this year’s Sundance edition, naming titles like “Margin Call” and “The Guard” as standout pics.

There were mixed reactions for “The Ledge,” but producer Mark Damon was encouraged by several nods from domestic and U.K. buyers after last night’s screening. Pic already has sold in more than half the world with these two territories still up for grabs.

Among the fest’s documentary lineup, Irish docu “Knuckle,” about an eccentric family of boxers, continues to see bizzers circling for potential remake rights.

The fest’s docus seemingly have been on higher demand so far, as Morgan Spurlock’s “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” got picked up by Sony Classics opening day, and HBO Documentary is repping James Marsh’s “Project Nim” for U.S. theatrical rights after snapping the pic prior to the fest.

Despite a slew of deals being made in the run-up to Sundance this year, buyers still express an appetite for what the fest has to offer.