Now that the Sundance Film Festival is starting to wind down, more films join the ranks of early pick-ups "Little Miss Sunshine" and "The Science of Sleep," acquired this week by Fox Searchlight and Warner Independent, respectively.
Bent Hamer’s "Factotum" originally had a distribution deal with Picturehouse after it premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, but was dumped last month — Picturehouse reportedly wanted a television-friendly version (read: no sex or alcohol abuse). Luckily, the character study of a directionless, alcoholic womanizer proved worthy at it’s American debut this week and got picked up by IFC Films. Read Tim’s review of "Factotum" here.
IFC stood prouder yet as Miramax bought distribution rights to "The Night Listener," an IFC Films co-produced thriller starring Robin Williams as a late-night radio show host who develops a connection with a young caller.Co-written by "Tales of the City" writer Armistead Maupin from his own novel, "Listener" reportedly entertained offers from Sony Pictures Classics and Lionsgate before accepting Miramax’s offer of $3 million and becoming the company’s first major post-Weinstein acquisition.
Meanwhile, Lionsgate picked up rights to "Right at Your Door," a suburban disaster thriller starring Rory Cochrane and Mary McCormack. "Door" follows a man who seals himself inside his home after a bomb goes off in LA, trying to keep out the toxic fallout and desperate people caught out of doors. The film, by first-time director Chris Gorak, went for $2 million — quite notable for a relative newbie filmmaker.
Finally, the first doc to break out this year turned out to be "Wordplay," a fondly humorous look at the world of crossword puzzles. IFC Films added to it’s strong Sundance presence this year by paying $1 million to distribute first-time director Patrick Creadon‘s pic, which features New York Times Puzzle Editor and crossword god Will Shortz, Jon Stewart, Ken Burns and more and follows the national crossword competition held annually.
With the festival in it’s second phase more deals are expected to be announced soon, including pending negotiations for the Edward Norton starrer "The Illusionist" and "Half Nelson," starring Ryan Gosling.