Park City, Utah
Sundance acquisitions took off Monday as weekend deals started to close.
With the biggest deal of the fest in the bag — Relativity Media’s surprise buy of “Don Jon’s Addiction” — and several more titles in tow, deals will be tumbling out of Park City all week: Several strong titles remained available in a year chockfull of viable indie fare. Though the talk before the fest was VOD and more VOD, strong theatrical runs have been the theme so far.
Relativity’s acquisition of “Don Jon’s Addiction” got things rolling, the result of a multiparty bidding war that kept agents and execs up till 5 a.m. Making their first Sundance buy, topper Ryan Kavanaugh and prexy Tucker Tooley paid a minimum guarantee of around $4 million with a healthy P&A commitment to release the adult-themed pic wide — a sign that Relativity is bullish on the commercial viability of the movie and possibly the future of the budding filmmaker.
The other hot weekend premiere title, “Fruitvale,” had distribs jockeying just as hard. Paramount was keen on director Ryan Coogler’s based-on-a-true-story pic — Adam Goodman in L.A. and marketing chief Megan Colligan fancy unearthing one indie gem each year — but the Weinstein Co. prevailed, picking 26 year-old USC grad Coogler’s Oakland, Calif.-set drama for $2 million-$3 million, guaranteeing a sizable theatrical release.
A couple of comedies saw some action, too – A24 nabbed fest breakout “The Spectacular Now” in a low-seven-figure deal, while “Twilight” author and tyro producer Stephenie Meyer’s “Austenland” was picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions after flirtations with several other buyers. And there were still plenty of other sought-after titles seeking distributors.
Those behind “S-VHS,” considered an upgrade to last year’s Sundance entry “V/H/S,” were entertaining another go with Magnolia, which released the original. But now that the horror anthology brand has been established, the asking price is higher.
Other movies with multiple offers included “Kill Your Darlings” and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”; the latter already has a foreign deal with the Weinstein Co., which is said to have an option on domestic rights. Also garnering interest from buyers are Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight,” which was very well received by critics; David Gordon Green’s “Prince Avalanche”; Big Beach Films’ latest “Toy’s House”; “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” sneaked over the weekend; Beltway sniper pic “Blue Caprice”; midnight cannibal title “We Are What We Are”; “Concussion”‘ and docu “Anita,” which has sold out all of its Sundance screenings.
And in the midst of a festival with a broad range of strong titles steadily coming through — after Lake Bell’s “In a World” was warmly received at the Library on Sunday night, talks were beginning with distributors — there’s still a lot more to come. Monday’s premieres included Shia LaBeouf starrer “The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman,” ensemble comedy “The Way, Way Back” featuring Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell and female-driven comedies “Afternoon Delight” and “Ass Backwards.”
(Rachel Abrams in Hollywood contributed to this report.)