Indie film world gets boost at Sundance

Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:42am EST
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By Jay A. Fernandez and Gregg Goldstein

PARK CITY, Utah (Hollywood Reporter) - The independent films are all right.

High-profile sales of "The Kids Are All Right" to Focus Features and "Buried" to Lionsgate in the past few days have reassured industry watchers that the independent-film market is, if not in peak form, healthy enough.

But there is no question that the dealmaking at this year's Sundance, which concludes Sunday, reverted to what one producer with a film in play called a "rational approach." Patience and thoroughness have become the catchwords in the condos, theater lobbies and lounges here.

North American rights to "Buried" -- a man-in-a-coffin thriller starring Ryan Reynolds -- went for $3 million-$4 million plus a hefty commitment to prints and advertising (P&A).

"Kids," Lisa Cholodenko's drama-tinged comedy starring Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as lesbian lovers, found a quick home after its packed Monday screening. Focus picked up North American rights -- along with South Africa, the U.K. and Germany -- for nearly $5 million.

Buyers have been kicking the tires of "The Company Men," "happythankyoumoreplease," "The Tillman Story," "Splice," "Douchebag," "Catfish," "Winter's Bone" and "High School." But only a few more deals are expected to close before the festival ends.

"There's more thought put into each film's ultimate marketability and less impulsiveness than in past years," said United Talent Agency indie film co-head Rena Ronson said.

"Distributors really want to be sure which platform is right for each film and if it will expand into a multiquadrant release for different audiences," she added.   Continued...