UPDATE, 5:35 PM: It’s official: Drafthouse Films and Snoot Entertainment have confirmed their acquisition of the midnight pic Cheap Thrills, which will receive a theatrical and VOD release. The deal kicked off sales at SXSW 2013, which picked up today when another late night selection, Haunters, went to IFC Midnight. The official Cheap Thrills announcement appears below Deadline’s original exclusive.

EXCLUSIVE, SUNDAY PM: The first deal of SXSW 2013 closed today as Drafthouse Films and Snoot Entertainment took theatrical, home vid and VOD rights to E.L. Katz’s midnight selection Cheap Thrills. Pat Healy, David Koechner, Sara Paxton, and Ethan Embry star in the twisted comedy thriller about a working class family man tempted by a rich couple into a series of escalating bets. Bidding wars are rare at the Austin fest, but competition broke out late Friday night after the film’s premiere where audience and critical enthusiasm was high. I hear Magnolia, Anchor Bay, and IFC were also in the running at various stages with some eager to buy right away. But in stark contrast to Sundance, where auctions carry on into the wee hours of the night and nobody sleeps, this deal took all of Saturday to unfold. 

The action closed when Drafthouse and Snoot made a winning bid in the low mid six figure range for all U.S. rights, negotiated by Josh Braun and David Koh of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers and James Shapiro of Drafthouse Films. (The Austin-based distributor’s docu pick-ups A Band Called Death and The Act Of Killing are also screening at SXSW.) Drafthouse will release the pic theatrically in a minimum of 20 markets with a release date TBA. Cheap Thrills marks Katz’s directorial debut and is written by Trent Haaga and David Chirchirillo, with Travis Stevens of Snowfort Pictures and Gabriel Cowan and John Suits of New Artists Alliance producing. Katz is repped by Gersh and Jeremy Platt at Generate.

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AUSTIN, TX – March 11th, 2013 – Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, in partnership with Snoot Entertainment, acquired US distribution rights to the twisted dark comedy thriller Cheap Thrills following its world premiere at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival. The directorial debut from E.L. Katz stars Pat Healy (Compliance) as a recently fired father facing eviction who agrees to take on an escalating series of insane challenges in exchange for cash payments from a rich couple with a twisted sense of humor. The film also stars David Koechner (Anchorman 2), Sara Paxton (The Innkeepers), Ethan Embry (Empire Records)and was penned by Trent Haaga (Deadgirl) and David Chirchirillo. A VOD and theatrical release in a minimum of 20 markets is planned.

The film debuted as part of SXSW’s Midnight section where it received praise from critics and thrilled audiences with its unique blend of social morality play, visceral brutality and razor sharp wit. “Class warfare comes perversely home in Cheap Thrills,” says Peter Martin of Twitch Film adding that it is “a fiendish, fierce, and funny morality tale about the true value of money.” James Rocchi at MSN Movies wrote that the filmis “cynical, amoral, tense and superbly shot and performed.”

“We are always in search of smart genre fare with defined characters and powerful performances. And we found it in Katz’s uniquely disturbing, funny, and remarkably thrilling film,” says Drafthouse Films founder & CEO Tim League, “we are proud to welcome Cheap Thrills to our roster and we are anxious to unleash it upon unsuspecting audiences.”