"Teen" frenzy at Sundance

Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:13pm EST
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By Gregg Goldstein and Steven Zeitchik

PARK CITY, Utah (Hollywood Reporter) - With buyers exercising caution at Sundance, a documentary about the trials of being a teenager offered the most suspenseful dealmaking plotline.

Nanette Burstein's "American Teen" revolves around Indiana high school seniors. A cheerleader, hipster, jock and band geek are all featured in a film one insider dubbed "a smarter 'Laguna Beach."'

In the wake of the blockbuster success of Fox Searchlight's "Juno," a fictional account of a resolute and colorful teenager, buyers were showing keen interest in "Teen."

Fox Searchlight, in fact, made an early play for the film Saturday, but then dropped out at the $1 million-$2 million mark. By Monday, Sony Pictures Classics was said to have the inside track, though Paramount Vantage was in the running.

Elsewhere -- save for some smaller buys like PBS' pickup of the slave-trade documentary "Traces of the Trade: Stories From the Deep North" for its "POV" series -- buyers and sellers seemed to be locked in a standoff.

A quartet of prestige films that debuted Sunday attracted interest but no immediate top-level bids.

They included the dark literary drama "Incendiary," starring Ewan McGregor; Rawson Marshall Thurber's "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," based on the early novel by Michael Chabon; the Elle Fanning and Felicity Huffman family drama "Phoebe in Wonderland"; and Paul Schneider's quirky tale of hucksters and science "Pretty Bird."

Attention shifted to Andrew Fleming's "Hamlet 2," set for a Monday night screening, in hopes that it might jump-start the sales action. The film stars Steve Coogan as a high school drama teacher who attempts to stage a musical sequel to Shakespeare's play.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Mary-Kate Olsen attends the premiere of "The Wackness" during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 18, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>