You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

SXSW keeps cooking for fanboys, buyers

'Cabin the Woods' to kick off fest Friday

Cable nets mine SXSW energy

Young talent, multi-tasking geeks and freaks from the underworld converge onscreen in Austin Friday in world-preeming South by Southwest opener “The Cabin in the Woods.”

Last year, TWC picked up Oscar-winning gridiron docu “Undefeated” shortly after its SXSW world preem, igniting action that saw several docus, midnight chiller “Kill List” and gay romance “Weekend” ink deals during the fest. Saturday morning’s world preem of Jacob Rosenberg’s skateboard docu “Waiting for Lightning,” from the “Step Into Liquid” producers, could spur buying action even earlier.

Drawn by digital deals and eager fans, a wider array of U.S. and foreign sellers and buyers are riding into town this year for the nine-day SXSW Film, which overlaps its Interactive and Music compadres.

Pre-fest pickups include the just-scooped Jay and Mark Duplass comedy “Do-Deca-Pentathalon” (Red Flag/Fox Searchlight), Adam Sherman’s “Crazy Eyes” (Strand) and midnighters “The Aggression Scale” (Anchor Bay) and “Iron Sky” (eOne).

“It strikes me there’s more available films this year and a higher level of industry attendance across the board,” said Arianna Bocco, Sundance Selects/IFC Films senior VP of acquisitions and productions and a fest vet.

Buyers have their hitlists but come to SXSW prepared for unexpected gems. ” ‘Weekend’ came out of left field for us, and I have a feeling that will happen this year,” she added.

SXSW continues to be a key launchpad for pics with distribution. In addition to Drew Goddard’s “Cabin” (Lionsgate), Columbia/MGM world preems “21 Jump Street” Monday and Pantelion serves up Will Ferrell-starrer “Casa de mi padre” Tuesday, both opening wide March 16.

Auds can catch U.S. preems of William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe,” Willem Dafoe-starrer “The Hunter” and Eduardo Sanchez’s “Lovely Molly.”

Magnet has reggae docu “Marley,” the world preem of midnighter “Rec 3 Genesis,” horror omnibus “V/H/S” and Bobcat Goldthwaite’s “God Bless America.” Local hero Richard Linklater presents his dark comedy “Bernie,” starring Jack Black. And SXSW discovery Lena Dunham (2010 narrative winner and IFC pickup “Tiny Furniture”) unveils her HBO comedy “Girls.”

Sellers and buyers agree SXSW’s youth-skewed tech and culture-savvy audience is an important litmus test for their product. The fest will hand out aud awards in all program categories for the first time this year.

“Someone who was 13 five years ago is now 18 and part of a generation of consumers trained to watch and respond to movies in a different way,” said Preferred Content founder Kevin Iwashina, whose pics are on buyer rader including U.K. chiller “Black Pond,” docu “Charles Bradley: Soul of America” and John Slattery-starring father-son drama “In Our Nature.”

“(Film fest producer) Janet Pierson and her team make a conscious effort to program for their market, not for the business, and identify films you wouldn’t see anywhere else.”

Welsh-born heartthrob Aneurin Barnard stars in two pics capturing the Southby vibe — Irish helmer Ciaran Foy’s world-preeming feral-kids midnighter “Citadel” and Marc Evans’ 1970s-set coming-of-age musical “Hunky Dory,” screening in the narrative spotlight alongside Matthew Lillard’s “Fat Kid Rules the World” and Jordan Roberts’ “Frankie Go Boom,” which pits Charlie Hunnam and Chris O’Dowd against Ron Perlman in drag

The Emerging Visions program seems to have major buyer awareness this year, with “Black Pond,” Kirsten Sheridan’s Dublin teen rampage “Dollhouse,” Rebecca Thomas’ edgy Mormon girl tale “Electrick Children,” and world preems of Andrew Neel’s camera-footage mashup “King Kelly,” Matthew A. Cherry’s “The Last Fall” (Lance Gross as a washed-up ex-pro footballer) and Bill and Turner Ross’s rambling New Orleans-set docu “Tchoupitoulas.”

Narrative competish pics attracting acquisitions interest include Jonathan Lisecki’s babymaking comedy “Gayby,” Mark Jarrett’s ex-pat odyssey “The Taiwan Oyster,” as well as newcomer Adam Leon’s graffiti revenge drama “Gimme the Loot” (also programmed in New Directors New Films) and unlikely friendship story “Starlet,” from “Prince of Broadway” helmer Sean Baker.

Submarine’s Josh Braun, who just closed an unspecified deal for Rick Alverson’s Sundance-preeming laffer “The Comedy” (screening at SXSW), always finds success with his focussed slate.

“Southby rarely has bidding wars and, for me, it’s where negotiations start but it wouldn’t surprise me if we sell a title during the festival this year,” said Braun, who has “Loot” and “Starlet,” competish docu “Jeff” (a chiller about Jeffrey Dahmer), and artsy docus “Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters” and “Central Park Effect.”

“Distributors are having a more direct dialogue with audiences,” said Elizabeth Sheldon, vice-prexy of Kino Lorber. “The festival’s convergence of tech and film is unique, in that it brings that online audience — the passionate people involved in Kickstarter campaigns and similar initiatives — into theaters,” Sheldon says. “And it’s great to meet that core audience because, today, it’s your strongest marketing tool.”

More Film

  • Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home

    Film News Roundup: Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home for Christmas'

    In today’s film news roundup, “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” is in the works, the NFL has made a documentary about female team owners and D Street Pictures has signed Kenny Gage and Devon Downs to direct the dance feature “Move.” HOLIDAY PROJECT Miramax has acquired film rights to Lauren Iungerich’s holiday-themed screenplay “I [...]

  • Michael B. Jordan arrives at the

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Warner Bros.' 'Methuselah' Movie

    Michael B. Jordan will produce and star in a “Methuselah” movie for Warner Bros., based on the Biblical story of a man who lived to be 969 years old. Jordan will produce through his Outlier Society production company along with Heyday’s David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. Warner Bros. has been developing the project for many [...]

  • Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping

    Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping Italy's Top Film Awards

    Piera Detassis recently became the first woman to head the David di Donatello Awards, Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars. Since then she’s been busy overhauling the inner workings of the prizes that will be awarded on Wednesday. Detassis, also the editor of Italian film publication Ciak, spoke exclusively to Variety about the challenges she’s faced [...]

  • Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards

    Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards Race

    With 15 nominations Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman” leads the pack of contenders for Italy’s David di Donatello Awards in a watershed year for the country’s top film nods that sees highbrow auteur titles reaping most of the David love just as local box-office grosses hit an all-time low. Garrone’s gritty revenge drama is followed closely with [...]

  • steven spielberg Apple TV Plus

    Steven Spielberg's Apple Appearance Riles Up Social Media: 'Big Old Mixed Message'

    Many Hollywood heavyweights flocked to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters to help reveal the tech giant’s revamped steaming service Apple TV+ on Monday — but one such legend was so polarizing he became a national trending topic on Twitter for simply showing his face. Steven Spielberg was the first to appear in a dramatic short film [...]

  • Michael Lynne

    Former New Line Co-Chairman Michael Lynne Dies at 77

    Michael Lynne, the former co-chairman of New Line Cinema who played a key role in shepherding “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, has died at his New York home. He was 77. Lynne’s death was confirmed Monday by longtime business partner Robert Shaye, who told Variety that Lynne’s family had informed him of Lynne’s passing [...]

  • Marisa Liston

    Sony Veteran Marisa Liston to Lead Lionsgate Movie Publicity

    Lionsgate has named Sony Pictures veteran executive Marisa Liston to lead all feature film and motion picture group publicity and communications strategy. Liston, who departed Sony in late 2018 after 17 years, has been assigned the newly created title of head of global earned media and communications. She will oversee domestic and international feature film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content