After a heated bidding war, Fox Searchlight has walked away with “Patti Cake$” for $9.5 million, Variety has confirmed.
The indie label beat out several other players, including Amazon Studios, Neon and Lionsgate, for the well-reviewed comedy about a rap star from New Jersey.
It’s the second biggest deal of the festival so far, following the $12 million Amazon Studios shelled out for “The Big Sick.” Other bids from Amazon and Neon were higher, in the $10 million range, but the producers opted for Searchlight based on its track record with prestige titles.
Despite the rapturous applause at the movie’s Monday afternoon premiere and positive reviews, “Patti Cake$” still represents a risk for Searchlight. The biggest name in the cast is Cathy Moriarty, a character actress best known for “Raging Bull.” The rest of the ensemble is comprised of unknowns.
Creative marketing and good word of mouth will be needed to convince audiences to turn out. After all, many films that are beloved by the Park City crowd, such as “Dope” and Searchlight’s own “Me and the Earl and the Dying Girl,” have collapsed in wide release.
Newcomer Danielle McDonald, from Australia, plays the title character, who is being billed as the breakout discovery of this year’s festival. First-time feature director Geremy Jasper made “Patti Cake$.”
CAA and WME handled the deal.