Heated Deal Making at Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival awards have been handed out, the deals have been made. Going into the festival the films seemed much less commercial than in previous years. There was no obvious 'Little Miss Sunshine'. The subject matter seemed, in general, more controversial, but that didn't stop some heated deal making. The two biggest buyers seemed to be Fox Searchlight and the Weinstein Co. The Fox division picked up 'Joshua', and "Waitress". TWC acquired John Cusack's drama "Grace is Gone" and partnered with Searchlight to acquire "La Misma Luna", starring Ugly Betty's America Ferrera. TWC also penned a deal with First Look to acquire "Dedication", with Billy Crudup and Mandy Moore. TWC's last big deal is a partnership with Lionsgate to acquire "Teeth", a horror comedy about a particularly unpleasant topic.

One of the bigger acquisitions was Paramount Vantage paying an estimated $7.75 million (that's a lot in Sundance Dollars) for nearly all worldwide rights to "Son of Rambow", a British movie. In yet another seven figure deal, "The Ten", a comedy about the ten commandments, sold to ThinkFilm for a reported $4.5 million, but Hollywood folks say it was likely lower.

In all, there were more than a dozen movies selling in the seven figures. This year brought more buys and pricier ones. So it was quite a busy festival. The big deal films were also big winners, which isn't always the case. "Grace is Gone" won the Audience Award and the Screenwriting Award yet the Grand Jury prize went to a film that hasn't yet been sold - "Padre Nuestro", a film mostly in Spanish and set in the US, similar to Quinceanera which won last year.

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