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Studios Acquire Titles at Sundance

28 Jan, 2009 By: Billy Gil

Although this year’s Sundance Film Festival was apparently marred by the depressed worldwide economy, studios still managed to acquire critically acclaimed titles with some unique distribution deals. 

Perhaps the most notable among these was a deal Magnolia Pictures cut for the comedy Humpday. The studio reportedly paid $100,000 for the title and will first introduce the film through pay-per-view and premium cable channels before a small theatrical run and home video release, the Los Angeles Times reported. Magnolia previously has participated in the “superrelease” phenomenon whereby films are released theatrically, online (through Mark Cuban’s HDNet) and on DVD, which was used to release such films as Steven Soderbergh’s Bubble and Brian De Palma’s Redacted.

Of the Park City, Utah, festival’s 118 films, significant acquisitions include Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group spending $2 million for North American rights to Black Dynamite, a blaxploitation spoof, and Sony Pictures Classics spending $3 million for North and Latin American rights to An Education, which stars Peter Sarsgaard and won the world drama audience award and world drama cinematography award at the fest. Sony Pictures also acquired home entertainment rights to cop drama Brooklyn’s Finest, with a theatrical release through partner Senator US.

“Most buyers operated intelligently with the right mix of caution and aggressiveness,” commented Steve Bersch, president of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group.

Other acquisitions reported by the Times and Entertainment Weekly include Anchor Bay Films forking over $3.5 million for Ashton Kutcher starrer Spread, Fox Searchlight spending $1.5 million for love story Adam, and Lionsgate acquiring for $2 million North American and British rights to Winning Season, starring Sam Rockwell as a girls’ high school basketball coach. Meanwhile Warner Bros. premiered the Amy Poehler comedy Spring Breakdown at the fest; Warner Premiere will debut the direct-to-video release April 9.

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