Studios snap up Sundance favorites, boosting indie film market

Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:56pm EST
 

By Piya Sinha-Roy and Sharon Swart

Park City, Utah (Reuters) - Movie studios have been searching for the next big thing at the Sundance Film Festival after the critical and commercial success of indie films such as "Beasts of the Southern Wild" with a slew of business deals being made during the festival.

The biggest purchase came midway through the 10-day event when Fox Searchlight paid about $10 million for quirky coming-of-age comedy "The Way, Way Back", starring Steve Carell and Toni Collette, according to sources close to the deal.

"The Way, Way Back" is the directorial debut of Oscar-winning screenwriters Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who penned last year's hit "The Descendants".

While eight-figure deals are rare at Sundance, Fox Searchlight, a division of 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp, is a regular big spender at the festival.

The studio dropped more than $10 million in 2006 for "Little Miss Sunshine", another comedy starring Carell and Collette. The film grossed more than $60 million at the U.S. box office.

After a quiet acquisition year at the 2012 Sundance festival, RADiUS-TWC, the boutique multi-platform division of The Weinstein Company, snapped up five films.

The company, headed by former Magnolia Pictures executives Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, acquired the rights for music documentary "Twenty Feet From Stardom", about the journey of back-up singers.

Quinn described the film as "amazing and exceptional."   Continued...

 
Pedestrians walk down Main street during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 20, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson