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Sundance: Paul Walker-Starrer ‘Vehicle 19′ Acquired By Ketchup Entertainment

By | Wednesday January 23, 2013 @ 7:38am PST
Mike Fleming

Ketchup Entertainment has acquired the action thriller Vehicle 19, which stars The Fast And The Furious topliner Paul Walker, Naima McLean, Gys de Villiers, Leyla Haidarian, and Tshepo Maseko. It was directed by Retribution‘s Mukunda Michael Dewil. Ryan Haidarian and Peter Safran produced and Walker and Eddie Mbalo are exec producers. Walker plays a recent parolee who unwittingly picks up the wrong rental vehicle after a long flight. He soon realizes that he is the target of an entire police force after discovering the tied-up female “passenger” in the trunk. Pic will be released in June. Read More »

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Sundance: Exclusive Releasing Acquires ‘Two Mothers’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In another late night Sundance Film Festival deal, Exclusive Media-owned Exclusive Releasing is closing a deal for U.S. rights to Two Mothers, the Anne Fontaine-directed drama that premiered last Friday at the Eccles Theatre. Deal is a low seven figure advance and includes a few other territories, but most of the foreign territories belong to Gaumont, which funded the film. Pic is described as a gripping tale of love, lust and the power of friendships of two lifelong female friends who fall in love with each other’s sons. Naomi Watts and Robin Wright play the moms, and Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville also star. Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton penned the adaptation of Doris Lessing’s short story.

The deals calls for a traditional theatrical release through Exclusive Releasing, the distribution company that Exclusive co-chairmen Guy East and Nigel Sinclair launched last September, headed by Scott Pascucci and Matt Brodlie. There is a significant P&A and screen commitment for what will shape up as a specialized film release in the summer. Numerous bidders circled the film, some proposing a multi-platform strategy, but Exclusive Media’s Exclusive Releasing was most aggressive for its new release enterprise. CAA brokered the deal with Brodlie and Gaumont International chief Cécile Gaget. Read More »

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Sundance: eOne Gobbles Cannibal Tale ‘We Are What We Are’

By | Wednesday January 23, 2013 @ 12:36am PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: In a low seven-figure deal for U.S. rights, eOne acquired the Jim Mickle-directed We Are What We Are, which premiered last Friday at the Library Center Theatre in the Park City At Midnight section. The plot: a devastating storm washes up clues that lead authorities closer to unraveling the dark secrets of the Parker family, who are cannibals. That premise is treated as slasher fare, it’s far more stylish and the buyer crowd and audience at the premiere screening ate it up and feel they’ve found a director with a voice worth hearing. The film stars Ambyr Childers, Bill Sage, Julia Garner, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell and Kelly McGillis. It has gotten strong reviews beyond the genre crowd, and it gives eOne a good theatrical offering. Deal was made on the flight back to Los Angeles. I’ve heard both the WME Global and eOne teams were on the same flight back from Park City. They haggled but by the time the plane landed, eOne hit the asks made by the agents, who denied this colorful story. Somehow, it fits with the frenzied pace of deals due to the influx of new buyers. eOne will put it out in a platform theatrical release.

The suitors I heard were in the mix here included Magnolia and Drafthouse. This festival has been way better than anybody expected, and the Midnight Section will lead to several deals. Among the pics with buyers circling include … Read More »

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Sundance: Short Film Award Winners

By | Tuesday January 22, 2013 @ 10:06pm PST

The jury prizes and honorable mentions in short filmmaking were handed out tonight at the Sundance Film Festival. The Festival’s feature awards in the Dramatic, Documentary and other categories will be honored on January 26 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosting. The Dark Knight Rises star’s directorial debut Don Jon’s Addiction premiered at Sundance this year and was picked up by Relativity Media for a summer release. Check out the short filmmaking winners & honorees here:

The Short Film Grand Jury Prize was awarded to:

The Whistle / Poland (Director: Grzegorz Zariczny) — Marcin, a lowest-leagues football referee who lives in a small town near Krakow, dreams of better times. At his mother’s urging, he decides to change his life and find himself a girlfriend and a better job.

The Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction was presented to:

Whiplash / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Damien Chazelle) — An aspiring drummer enters an elite conservatory’s top jazz orchestra.

The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction was presented to:

The Date / Finland (Director and screenwriter: Jenni Toivoniemi) — Tino’s manhood is put to the test in front of two women when he has to host a date for Diablo, the family’s stud cat.

Read More »

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Sundance: Sony Pictures Classics Acquires ‘Kill Your Darlings’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Classics is closing a deal for multiple territories on Kill Your Darlings, the John Krokidas-directed drama that stars Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston and last year’s Sundance festival darling, Elizabeth Olsen. Scripted by Austin Bunn and Krokidas, the drama is an untold story of murder that brought together a young Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs at Columbia University in 1944, providing the spark that led to the birth of the Beat generation. UTA and Cassian Elwes brokered the deal.

The film is a coproduction between Benaroya Pictures and Killer Films. Michael Benaroya, Christine Vachon and Rose Ganguzza are the producers.

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Sundance: CBS Films Acquires Domestic Rights To ‘Toy’s House’

By | Tuesday January 22, 2013 @ 6:46pm PST
Mike Fleming

CBS Films announced today it has acquired domestic rights to the coming-of-age comedy TOY’S HOUSE. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts from a screenplay by Chris Galletta, the movie premiered to rave reviews on Saturday, January 19th at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

TOY’S HOUSE stars Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Erin Moriarty, Marc Evan Jackson, Thomas Middleditch and Tony Hale. TOY’S HOUSE follows three teenage boys (Robinson, Basso and Arias) as they head into the wilderness with a plan to build a house and live off the land. The film marks the feature directorial debut of Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

Read More »

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Sundance: Mahindra Global Filmmaking Awards Names Winners

By | Tuesday January 22, 2013 @ 5:06pm PST

Five international filmmakers today won the Sundance Institute/Mahindra Global Filmmaking Awards at the Sundance Film Festival. The awards went to Sarthak Dasgupta’s The Music Teacher (India) Jonas Carpignano’s A Chjana (Italy/US), Aly Muritiba’s The Man Who Killed My Beloved Dead (Brazil) And Co-Directors Vendela Vida & Eva Weber’s Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name (UK/Germany/US). Each film receives $10,000 plus attendance at the Sundance Film Festival for targeted industry and creative meetings, year-round mentoring from Institute staff and selected advisors and participation in a Feature Film Program Lab. Rohit Khattar, Chairman of Mumbai Mantra, and the Sundance Institute’s Michelle Satter, and Paul Federbush presented the awards. Now in its third year, the award is intended to recognize and support of emerging independent filmmakers from around the world.

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Sundance: ‘Cyborg Foundation’ Wins Focus Forward Filmmaker Competition

By | Tuesday January 22, 2013 @ 4:00pm PST

Cyborg Foundation today won the $100,000 Grand Jury prize in the Focus Forward Filmmaker Competition today at the Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Rafel Duran Torrent, the short film documentary about a device that transforms colors into sounds for a colorblind man beat out over 600 submissions from 69 countries. Also, as part of his prize the Spanish filmmaker is invited to a ShortsLab at the Sundance Institute later this year. Jared P Scott and Kelly Nyks’ The Artificial Leaf, Paul Lazarus’ Slingshot (both American) as well as Callum Cooper’s Mine Kafon from the UK and Kim Munsamy’s Bones Don’t Lie and Don’t Forget from Guatemala were given runner-up awards. The award was first introduced last year at Sundance. The Focus Forward jurors were Daryl Hannah, filmmakers Barbra Kopple, Jose Padilha, Peter Wintonik, Joe Berlinger and Floyd Webb and Sundance Film Festival senior programmer Caroline Libresco.

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Hot Slamdance Trailer: ‘Ghost Team One’

By | Tuesday January 22, 2013 @ 12:19pm PST
Mike Fleming

Haven’t spent much time doting on Slamdance, but here’s a trailer for one of the titles playing, Ghost Team One. It’s a cross between Harold and Kumar and Paranormal Activity and it cost about $100,000 to make.

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Sundance: Evan Peters, Bella Heathcote To Star In Joe Castelo-Helmed ‘The Preppie Connection’

By | Tuesday January 22, 2013 @ 11:52am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: American Horror Story‘s Evan Peters and Not Fade Away‘s Bella Heathcote are set to star in The Preppie Connection, the next film by The War Within helmer Joe Castelo. Based on a true story, The Preppie Connection chronicles the exploits of a group of Choate private school students who ran a drug distribution operation in the early 1980s. The story centers on Toby, the lower-class scholarship student, who uses his street cred and access to drugs to make friends with the popular kids, eventually allowing him to cultivate a drug trafficking network. Toby gets in far over his head as he leads his friends into the dangerous world of Colombian drug cartels. Read More »

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Sundance: Magnolia Pictures And CNN Films Reel In ‘Blackfish’

By | Tuesday January 22, 2013 @ 11:25am PST
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films have confirmed this. I’m putting the release at the bottom of the original break.

EXCLUSIVE: Another Sundance deal! I’m hearing that Magnolia Pictures and upstart film company CNN Films will reel in Blackfish, the documentary about the notorious killer whale Tilikum that is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top trainer of killer whales. The film had numerous distributors swirling since it first screened Saturday night at the Temple Theatre in Park City. The film was directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Appropriate for a fish tale, the film was repped by Submarine. There was keen interest from TWC-Radius, Lionsgate, eOne, HBO and Sony Pictures Classics.

Park City, UT, Tuesday, January 22 — CNN Films, a production and acquisition unit of CNN Worldwide, and the Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures have partnered to acquire the U.S. rights to director Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s buzzed about documentary Blackfish at the Sundance film festival.

Thrilling, thought provoking and thoroughly entertaining, Blackfish traces a 39 year history of killer whales in captivity leading up to a 2010 incident where an experienced Sea World trainer was killed by the 12,000 lb. Orca whale Tilikum, a whale previously associated with the death of two other people. Blackfish chillingly shows that this incident of violence is hardly an isolated one, along the way exploring the extraordinary nature of

Read More »

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Sundance: Charles Manson Was Considered For ‘Sound City’ Documentary

By | Tuesday January 22, 2013 @ 11:12am PST

Dave Grohl said today at the Sundance Film Festival that he almost put convicted serial killer Charles Manson in his music documentary Sound City, which premiered here over last week. “Manson recorded at Sound City and at one point we considered talking to him about music because how f***ing insane would that be,” the first-time director and Foo Fighters frontman said Tuesday. “But we decided not to because we didn’t want it to take over the beautiful message of the movie — but we considered it.”

Manson recorded demos in the late 1960s at the famed San Fernando Valley recording studio that’s the subject of Sound CityFound guilty of murdering Sharon Tate and others in 1970, Manson has been in prison ever since and has repeatedly been denied parole. “He was a musician before he got busted. He was friends with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, and Dennis Wilson said ‘Here, go record some demos, I’ll pay for it, there’s this place called Sound City,” Grohl said this morning during an appearance with Prince Avalanche director David Gordon Green at Sundance’s Cinema Café. A number of bands have covered Manson’s songs over the years.

Related: Sundance: Dave Grohl’s ‘Sound City’ Concert Rocks Park City Read More »

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UPDATE: Participant Media Joins DreamWorks For WikiLeaks Movie ‘The Fifth Estate’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE, 10:40 AM: DreamWorks has confirmed my story, and they’ve got a title for the WikiLeaks feature – The Fifth Estate. (At right is also a first photo from the production featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange and Daniel Bruhl as Berg.) I’m putting the press release after the original scoop.

PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 9:44 AM: Participant Media is closing a deal to become DreamWorks‘ partner on the untitled feature film that Bill Condon is directing about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The studio has Benedict Cumberbatch playing Assange, with Daniel Bruhl playing Daniel Domscheit-Berg, whose book, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website, was one of two books that were the primary source material for the script written by Josh Singer. Steve Golin and Michael Sugar are producing.

This becomes the fifth film partnership between DreamWorks and Participant, where Jeff Skoll and Jim Berk’s focus is to generate socially relevant subject matter. Those other collaborations are the Best Picture nominee Lincoln, The Help, The Kite Runner, and The Soloist.

Related: Q&A: Participant’s Jeff Skoll And Jim Berk

This gives a clear shot at a production start on the film at a time when there has been big interest in the rogue web entrepreneur Assange. That includes one that Zero Dark Thirty scribe Mark Boal partnered on with Management 360 and financier/producer Megan Ellison that’s based on The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, an article about Assange in The New York Times Magazine written by the newspaper’s executive editor Bill Keller. Read More »

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UPDATE: SUNDANCE DEAL PRECEDENT PART 2 – Fox Searchlight Confirms ‘The Way, Way Back’ Deal For Nearly $10 Million

Mike Fleming

UPDATE, 10:19 AM: Fox Searchlight confirms that it has closed the deal on The Way, Way Back, saying it’s for just under $10 million. Since I was up all night writing cross-eyed to break the story hours ago, I would rather not repeat myself, so here is the early-morning story again, and I’ll put the official press release below my original story break when it arrives (it’s there now).

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 4:09 AM: The Sundance Film Festival has emerged as one of the craziest for deal making in recent memory. After a wild all-night negotiating session following a raucous premiere screening yesterday of The Way, Way Back, Fox Searchlight has emerged as the frontrunner to acquire domestic rights and several other territories. The price tag is around $10 million minimum guarantee, with a P&A and theatrical commitment.

Searchlight was among bidding distributors that include Lionsgate, FilmDistrict, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros. Buyers began mobilizing right after the film’s Monday 3:30 PM first screening at Eccles Theatre, and numerous sources have been telling me all night that this has been one of the most spirited auctions in recent Sundance memory.

Related: SUNDANCE DEAL PRECEDENT: Relativity Media Pacts For Joseph Gordon-Levitt Comedy ‘Don Jon’s Addiction’

By the time the deal gets closed this morning, it should also be just about the richest deal ever made at the festival, as the sale of additional foreign territories will raise the value of the deal even higher. The rabid pace of deal making and the high numbers are a surprise to me, because both buyers and sellers expected the films to go in low upfront deals. Then, the buyers started discovering an exceptional crop of films programmed by Sundance. Read More »

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Sundance: Radius-TWC Seduced By ‘Lovelace;’ $3 Million Deal Closed

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: The deal is official, with Radius-TWC planning a fall 2013 release date. The company’s release is after the original story.

EXCLUSIVE: After a late-night Sundance courtship, Radius-TWC is closing a deal to acquire Lovelace in a deal that will climax in the range of $3 million, I hear. Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, the film stars Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace, who headlined the 1972 pornographic film hit Deep Throat, which captured the zeitgeist. But she was manipulated and bullied into participating in a film which became a financial juggernaut by her coercive boyfriend Chuck Traynor, who is played by Peter Sarsgaard. Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco and Sharon Stone also star.

The picture, which premiered Tuesday night at the Eccles Theatre, had several buyers massing, but Radius-TWC heads Tom Quinn and Jason Janego moved aggressively to make a deal with Millennium Films heads Avi Lerner and Mark Gill. Millennium financed a film whose edgy, racy subject matter and star casting should hit a strong mark as a multi-platform title. This goes down as the third Sundance deal for the multi-platform division of The Weinstein Company, which got underway last year as it landed Bachelorette and made that edgy comedy a big VOD hit.  Radius-TWC got this fest off to a start when it acquired the acclaimed docu on backup singers Twenty Feet From Stardom, and then bought the drama Concussion. Read More »

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UPDATE: CAA Not Sorry! THR Reporting Agency’s Explicit Sundance Party Featured Strap-On Penis And Simulated Sex

By | Monday January 21, 2013 @ 8:32pm PST

UPDATE: Nikki Finke, who’s ill, reports that CAA is not apologetic for the party.

PREVIOUS: Now it’s clear why CAA doesn’t invite the media to its annual Sundance talent agency event. The Hollywood Reporter‘s Matt Belloni is reporting that CAA’s Sunday night packed party featured “a team of pole-shimmying, barely-dressed burlesque dancers. At least one of them upped the ante by dancing with a strap-on penis, which sources say she used during an extended routine to tease the photo-snapping crowd of CAA clients, film executives and other festival-goers. Two dancers also performed what was described by a source as a simulated sex act on a bed in the party space… The act was too suggestive for at least one female party-goer who tells THR she was offended and left the event… “The performance by Simon Hammerstein’s The Act LV was more explicit than intended,” a CAA rep tells THR. “We regret if this created an uncomfortable setting for any of our guests.’” The risque revue is based at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas. The CAA event was held at the Claim Jumper on Main Street on a night when several major agencies were vying for major Hollywood players. Here is an Internet photo of CAA principal Kevin Huvane, CAA’s Chris Andrews, and movie producer Harvey Weinstein attending the party where guests according to THR were busy snapping photos … Read More »

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Sundance: Radius-TWC Closes Deal On ‘Concussion’

By | Monday January 21, 2013 @ 7:50pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Radius-TWC has just closed what I’m told is a low 7-figure deal for Concussion, a drama about a fortysomething wealthy, married, lesbian housewife who gets beaned by a baseball and strangely reflects on a life that she realizes is wanting and leads her to lead a secret life on the side. It’ll get a multi-platform release in a deal brokered by Paradigm. IFC and Magnolia also chased.

Here is the official announcement from Radius-TWC, which just confirmed Deadline’s scoop.

RADiUS – TWC proudly announced tonight that it
has acquired North American rights to CONCUSSION, one of the most provocative
and well received films at this year’s Festival that is drawing endless
comparisons to BELLE DE JOUR.

Read More »

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Sundance: ‘Austenland’ To Sony WorldWide Acquisitions For North Of $4 Million; Sony Pictures Classics To Release In U.S.

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Just got an update on Austenland. The deal is north of $4 million, midway between $4 million and $5 million, and Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in the summer, and they will rely heavily on producer (and Twilight Saga author) Stephenie Meyer, Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale, along with star Keri Russell to promote it and make this a chick flick extravaganza.

EARLIER, BREAKING: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has closed on the Keri Russell-starrer Austenland. It’s a surprising outcome, and the deal numbers I’m hearing are north of $4 million for worldwide rights. Sony Pictures Classics will release in the U.S. The Jerusha Hess-directed film about a Jane Austen fanatic is produced by Twilight Saga‘s Stephenie Meyer. Read More »

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Sundance: Looks Like Another Late Night

By | Monday January 21, 2013 @ 5:35pm PST
Mike Fleming

The films The Way, Way Back played strongly at Eccles, and tonight is The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman. Sounds like another late night for buyers, sellers and the journos who stalk them. Negotiations continue on Austenland, but not with original first position suitors FilmDistrict and Exclusive Media. There was never an exclusive negotiation on this, but the sellers will make a different deal. There is also action on the Richard Linklater-directed Before Midnight, with Lionsgate sweet on it, among a bunch of other distributors, which is remarkable for the third leg of this classy trilogy, with no explosions to speak of.

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