Sundance: Fox Searchlight Closes Deal on ‘Me and Earl’

Sundance Film Festival Me and Earl

Fox Searchlight has landed “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” Variety has learned.

It’s easy to understand the studio’s enthusiasm. The dramedy about a high school student who is basically strong-armed into befriending a classmate with cancer earned a standing ovation when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday.

The film is not a pure acquisition, according to an individual with knowledge of the talks. It is a partnership with Indian Paintbrush, the film’s producer. Initial reports pegged the price at $12 million, but that appears to have been inflated. The individual said Fox Searchlight paid a portion of the production costs upfront. The deal also involves profit-sharing, with a pricetag estimated at roughly $6 million.

In a laudatory review, Variety’s Peter Debruge wrote that the film “has the potential to outperform last year’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars.” He praised the picture for mixing in laughter and pathos.

Following a pitched fight to land Sundance favorite “Dope,” which resulted in Open Road walking away with the film for $7 million, the battle to nab “Me and Earl” was another big slug-fest and a sign that this year’s festival is definitely a seller’s market. Among the players circling the project at various points were the Weinstein Company, CBS Films and Focus Features.

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directed the picture, which Jesse Andrews adapted from his book. Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal and Connie Britton star in the film. WME handled sales for the picture.