Sony Pictures Classics nabs Sundance fave "Wackness"

Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:56pm EST
 
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By Gregg Goldstein and Steven Zeitchik

PARK CITY, Utah (Hollywood Reporter) - Sony Pictures Classics has picked up North American rights to the Sundance festival's narrative audience award winner, the coming-of-age comedy-drama "The Wackness," in a low-seven-figure deal.

"Wackness" centers on a teen pot dealer (Josh Peck) in mid-'90s Manhattan who finds a mentor in his shrink (Ben Kingsley). The film resonated with audiences and was expected to sell early, but it ended up as one of the fest's many slow-burn sales.

The acquisition is SPC's third score of the festival. The Sony specialty shingle also picked up North American rights for Sundance's grand jury prize winner, Courtney Hunt's drama "Frozen River," which centers on two working-class women who smuggle immigrants into upstate New York, and Mark and Jay Duplass' Spectrum section comedy "Baghead."

The Duplass brothers, who created a stir at Sundance three years ago with the road-trip relationship film "The Puffy Chair," are part of the loose affiliation of young writer-directors known as the mumblecore movement. "Baghead" follows a group of four friends on a weekend getaway who or may not be tormented by a stranger wearing a bag over his head.

"The Wackness" was written and directed by Jonathan Levine, whose previous directing credits include "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" and "Love Bytes." Many fest-goers cited his new film's period soundtrack, a strong performance from Nickelodeon vet Peck and atmospheric direction as its main selling points, but others found marketing challenges in the quirky film.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

 
<p>Cast member Ben Kingsley (R) and director Jonathan Levine of the movie "The Wackness" pose during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 19, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>