The full lineup announced today for the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival includes Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s coming-of-age comedic drama The Way Way Back. The spendy Fox Searchlight pic has been tapped to close the fest, which runs June 13-23 downtown. The Film Independent-sponsored event includes gala presentations for Nicolas Winding Refn’s Ryan Gosling-starrer Only God Forgives and Ryan Googler’s Fruitvale Station, the Weinstein Company’s Sundance pickup that will play the month before in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. Pedro Almodovar’s comedy I’m So Excited! was already tapped to open the fest. Here’s the full lineup of more than 200 films, and 22 in the narrative and documentary competition categories, all of which boast world, North American or U.S. premieres:
Anyone who predicts sleeper hits ahead of the summer is either very brave or very spun. But these are the pics expected to emerge through the cracks of tentpole action: All benefit from obvious counterprogramming, festival hype, and demo-targeted storytelling. In chronological order:
– IFC’s Frances Ha has high awareness among its targeted younger-skewing arthouse crowd and exhibitors. “It’s certainly getting talked about in the right places for the audience they’re going for,” one NATO member tells me. Star Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach are indie darlings and scored a talked-about New Yorker piece last week that boosted their profile as a filmmaking couple. According to an IFC Films rep, it’s the sleeper they’re banking on when it releases May 17. “We think we’re going to get great word of mouth,” they tell me.
– CBS Films has two indie pickups budgeted at under $2M each that they’ve slotted into the summer. Sundance pickup Kings Of Summer (formerly Toy’s House) stars three youngsters and has TV stars Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, and Megan Mullally supporting. The studio’s hoping for its Stand By Me-esque story to build momentum with a May 31 limited release. “It’s a movie about discovering in general — which people who see arthouse films spark to,” a studio insider tells me. “And discovery is part of what makes a sleeper hit”. CBS Films is hoping it becomes this year’s Salmon Fishing In The Yemen which was a surprise success for the studio last year.
– Upstart distrib A24 is new to the summer game and has two more youth-skewing pics on tap after scoring a minor youthquake with the sexploitation Spring Breakers in March. The first is Sofia Coppola’s Bling Ring will get a NY-LA limited opening June 14 two weeks after its Cannes premiere.
The Way, Way Back is the coming-of-age story of a 14-year-old introvert who spends a difficult summer vacation with his single mom, her not so warm and fuzzy boyfriend and his daughter. Having a hard time fitting in, the teen finds unlikely friendships with the prickly manager and the …
UPDATE: SUNDANCE DEAL PRECEDENT PART 2 – Fox Searchlight Confirms ‘The Way, Way Back’ Deal For Nearly $10 Million
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.
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.