Sundance may be over for another year, but as Gordon Gekko mercilessly taught us: money never sleeps. So even though Park City has born witness to their annual mass exodus, there are still some films hanging around waiting to be bought and we have news of six films that have snagged distribution deals.
Magnolia have been particularly busy and announced the acquisition of three films in the space of 24 hours over the weekend. The company has a history of releasing interesting pictures (last year they put out “13 Assassins,” “The Troll Hunter” and “Rubber” amongst others) and they look set to continue in the same vein by picking up the most controversial picture of the festival. “Compliance” tells the incredible true story of a woman who was sexually assaulted under the pretense of a criminal investigation under the instructions of a man impersonating a police officer over the telephone. We were impressed by Craig Zobel’s film but disappointed by the final scene in which he “condemns one character rather than depicting it as objectively as he did during the previous eighty minutes.” Expect to hear this one being discussed for a long while to come. [Deadline]
Magnolia have also picked up another film we were impressed by; “Nobody Walks” starring Olivia Thirlby, John Krasinski, and Rosemary DeWitt, and co-written by Lena Dunham. The mid-six figure deal secures them Ry Russo-Young’s film, which we rated as “one of the best at the festival.” The company concluded their business with Julie Delpy’s “2 Days in New York,” a sequel to her 2007 film “2 Days in Paris,” which stars Delpy, her father Albert, and Chris Rock. That takes their tally of purchases to five for this year’s festival, having previously picked up “The Queen of Versailles” and “V/H/S.” [Deadline, THR]
“Safety Not Guaranteed,” the oddball comedy with a sci-fi tinge starring Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass has been picked up by FilmDistrict; the fledgling distributor who last year put out Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive.” We were impressed by the indie’s commitment to “following through on the ideas it introduces” as it follows a trio of journalists who investigate a personal ad for a partner in a time-travel experiment. FilmDistrict will market and distribute the film in 2012. A comedy we were far less happy with was Stephen Frears’ “Lay The Favorite,” starring Rebecca Hall and Bruce Willis. We found it largely laughless and aimless, but The Weinstein Company were obviously impressed enough by the names attached to take a punt on it. [Variety, Deadline]
Participant Media and AFFRM (African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement) have teamed up to acquire the rights to Ava Duvernay’s “Middle of Nowhere” with David Oyelowo. The film follows a woman who is coping with her husband’s incarceration and has received mixed reviews despite praise for offering strong roles to African-American actors. Indomina Films meanwhile have picked up the rights to Ice-T’s documentary “The Art of Rap,” in which the rapper tours the country discussing the history of his beloved medium. Expect to see this on release over the summer. [Reuters, Screen Daily]