Sundance, Day 5

This article was originally part of the Insider Cinema guide to Hollywood, a website from the mid-2000s. We are reposting it here as both a writing sample and a guide for those seeking to get their foot in the door in Hollywood.

The Sundance extravaganza marches on, as the late-night bidding war over Baghead, was settled in the early morning hours.  Sony Pictures Classics sealed the deal, with a reported amount of mid-six figures.  

Other bidding wars are still being waged behind closed doors, including Phoebe In Wonderland, Sleep Dealer, Sugar, and the Slamdance hit, Trailer Park of Terror.  I spoke with Patricia Gillum, producer of the horror piece, and she modestly remarked, “Before the evening had ended we had received some offers for distribution.”  She continued with, “We will have a contract within the next couple of weeks.”

Another important Park City potential is the promise of Sugar, the follow-up for co-writing and co-directing team, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.  Their first film, Half Nelson, amazed audiences and was quickly swooped up by ThinkFilm after Sundance ’06.  Half Nelson follows an inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit, who forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret addiction.  Sugar takes on a much different subject matter, following Miguel Santos, a Dominican baseball player struggling to make it to the big leagues and pull his family out of poverty. He gets his break at age 19, when he advances to the United States’ minor leagues and travels to Iowa. When his play on the mound falters, he begins examining more closely the world around him and his place within it, and ultimately questions the single-mindedness of his life’s ambition.

Buzz is high on Sugar, and many distributors are seeing it as a March release that could become an early contender for next year’s Oscars.  However, there is still the looming threat that because of the subject matter, and Boden and Fleck’s sophomore status, the film could falter at the box office, but still do well on DVD.  Only time will tell.    

Outside board rooms and executive suites, however, is a different story.  With many of the crowds gone, or simply hiding from the snow, the boulevards were more open, and events were more personal.  I enjoyed some time in the Filmmaker’s Lounge at a wine tasting event on Main Street.  There, Sundance directors, past and present, sat and chatted about their experiences.  It was a good opportunity to catch up with old friends, like Brian Singbiel, editor of Bigger, Stronger, Faster*.  I also met with the co-directors of The Linguists, Seth Kramer and Daniel A. Miller.  

Afterward, I went to the Turning Leaf Lounge, where posh patrons were granted a special wine tasting event, and moviemakers, and movie lovers alike mingled into the night.



Sony Pictures Classics acquires North American rights for high six figures.

International rights are still available.


Celluloid Dreams acquires international rights 

Domestic rights are still available, and pic is being repped by William Morris Independent

The Black List: Volume One

HBO acquires all rights 


Fox Searchlight acquires world rights, with exceptions to some national territories, for five million dollars

The Deal

Worldwide distribution rights controlled by Peace Arch Entertainment

Frozen River

Sony Pictures Classics acquired U.S. rights for mid-six figures

Foreign rights are still up for grabs

Hamlet 2

Focus Features acquires all rights for ten million dollars

Henry Poole Is Here

Overture Films has acquired all U.S. rights for three and a half million dollars

Kicking It

Acquired by ESPN

Polanski: Wanted and Desired

The Weinstein Company acquires all foreign rights for mid-six figures

HBO Documentary acquires all domestic U.S. rights

Up the Yangtze

Zeitgeist Films acquires all rights


Phoebe in Wonderland 

Multiple buyers are interested and could develop into a bidding war.

Sleep Dealer

Multiple buyers courting the film, with IFC in the lead.


From the directors of Half Nelson, it has several interested parties and may have a deal sewn up before the end of the weekend.  

Trailer Park of Terror

Multiple buyers interested.  

Stay up to date with for all your Sundance info, and all your insights into the entertainment industry. 

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