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Sundance: Sony Pictures Classics Acquires ‘The Guard’ With Brendan Gleeson

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Classics has closed a 7-figure deal for U.S. and Latin American distribution rights to The Guard, the Irish action comedy written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. The film premiered last Thursday and multiple distributors have been circling since.

Brendan Gleeson plays a local cop who begrudgingly assists an FBI agent (Don Cheadle) who is chasing the members of an international drug smuggling ring that has taken up residence in the Irish town. McDonagh, the brother of In Bruges writer/director Martin McDonagh (the pic’s executive producer), makes his feature debut. It’s the third deal of the festival for SPC partners Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, but the first one they made on the ground at Park City. They are distributing Morgan Spurlock’s documentary POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. And made a sight-unseen preemptive acquisition of the Jeff Nichols-directed drama Take Shelter, the drama that stars Michael Shannon as a small town man who builds a storm cellar in his yard after dreams tell him that an imminent apocalyptic event. Jessica Chastain plays his wife. That drama premiered today at Eccles Theater and it has received glowing reviews.

UTA’s Rena Ronson and David Flynn brokered the deal with Metropolis Film Sales.

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Sundance: Screenings Start Very Sloooow; Buyers Circle ‘The Guard’ With Don Cheadle

Mike Fleming

On the second day of Sundance, buyers were beginning to get antsy. The first screenings generated moderate interest, but buyers haven’t loved anything and only liked a few films. So far, the consensus is that the unveiled crop of films can’t be released on a high screen count. Deals will be made on these initial films, but not rich ones. The most promising reaction so far came opening day for John Michael McDonagh-directed Irish film The Guard, which stars Brendan Gleeson as a cranky village cop who’s mismatched with a visiting FBI agent (Don Cheadle) because the drug smuggling ring the fed was chasing had taken up residence in the Irish town. By Friday night, three buyers were circling the film. The director is the brother of In Bruges helmer Martin McDonagh. The Guard isn’t quite In Bruges (which also starred Gleeson) but it is a crowd-pleaser.

Several buyers said that Margin Call, the JC Chandor-directed drama about the financial meltdown of 2008, was compelling but long.

The pic Martha Marcy May Marlene has the buying crowd talking about its star, Elizabeth Olsen, who’s the younger sibling of the infamous Olsen Twins and also appears in Silent House, the thriller directed by Open Waters team Chris Kentis and Laura Lau. But respect for a performance doesn’t necessarily mean a buy. Silent House is a haunted house story told in one continuous shot, which meant the cast had to perform it all the way through, like a … Read More »

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SUNDANCE OPENING DAY: Robert Redford Has “Not Thought About Retirement”

SUNDANCE OVERVIEW From Mike Fleming: Is Dealmaking Avalanche In The Forecast? Handicapping The High Priority Acquisitions

(Freelancer Sharon Swart is helping Deadline’s Sundance coverage.)

Sundance officially kicked off this evening in Park City with the festival’s first screenings of films, many with various rights available. Irish cop comedy The Guard has just started screening at the Egyptian Theatre, with buyers including Harvey Weinstein in the house. Other films showing tonight are the Harry Belafonte documentary Sing Your Song, documentary Project Nim (which HBO just picked up), U.S. competition drama Pariah, and midnight screening Silent House, a horror thriller from the filmmakers behind 2003’s beyond-scary Open Water.

Earlier at the Egyptian today, Sundance founder Robert Redford, Sundance Institute exec director Keri Putnam, and festival director John Cooper held their annual opening day press conference. Redford wanted to talk about the Sundance Institute, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. “We usually focus on the festival,” Redford said in the conference’s opening remarks, but “I want to talk about why we are here… What’s our point.” He gave a quick recap of why he started the Institute and how the festival sprung from it five years later. Redford underlined its ongoing mission to support emerging artists with labs and workshops, as well as through the festival platform and several newer programs … Read More »

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