Gossip and Deals During the Final Weekend of Sundance
by Eugene Hernandez
On Friday morning, David D'Arcy told local KPCW radio listeners that the popular doc "Super Size Me" had been acquired by Newmarket Films. During a subsequent interview segment with John Sloss, who is selling the film, Sloss told D'Arcy that no distribution deal had yet been reached for the film. D'Arcy quickly clarified that his announcement was in fact gossip.
Rumors can spread quickly within the insular community of film professionals that attend a festival like Sundance. During the final weekend of the festival as awards were presented, deals were confirmed and attendees headed home. At the same time rumors surrounded a number of films, including the aforementioned "Super Size Me" and the dramatic grand jury prize winner, "Primer."
Friday evening, the dinner and party circuit buzzed with a new "Super Size Me" rumor, that is that the film's director Morgan Spurlock had been served with an injunction by McDonalds preventing screenings of the movie. The gossip circulated widely into Saturday until Spurlock said on stage, while accepting his directing award, that the film will indeed have a release. His reps also confirmed that no such injunction had been issued, nor had McDonalds issued any statement on the movie whatsoever.
In a confirmed deal, cable network A & E Network acquired television broadcast rights to Spurlock's "Super Size Me," yet a source close to the film told indieWIRE that a theatrical deal is still in the works. Distributor interest heated up after Saturday's awards ceremony, according to the source, and a theatrical pact is due in the next days. Reps are understood to be weighing a deal with a big company or taking on the distribution in a different way, following the model that director Andrew Jarecki pursued in partnering with Magnolia Pictures to release last year's "Capturing the Friedmans."
Ongoing speculation has surrounded Sundance dramatic grand jury prize winner "Primer" all weekend. Competing buyers told indieWIRE on Friday night that Newmarket had acquired the film. Yet Saturday, reps for a different New York distribution company told indieWIRE that they had acquired the movie. In a scene worthy of Peter Biskind's "Down and Dirty Pictures," Saturday night at Park City nightspot Butcher's a team from the film gathered alongside buyers from competing companies and others. No sooner had the distributor re-assured indieWIRE that they had agreed to a deal for the film than one of the film's reps approached indieWIRE to say that the filmmaker was still meeting with other distributors and no deal had been reached with anyone. The Primer rep chatted with competing would-be buyers at the bar and outside, while director Shane Carruth celebrated the win with friends and crew across the room. The distribution company grumbled that the film's reps were walking away from the deal to try and raise the price in light of the big award win. Meanwhile, a source close to the film told indieWIRE Sunday that a deal announcement is expected later this week.
Reps for Jacob Aaron Estes' "Mean Creek" told indieWIRE late Saturday that the film has been acquired by Newmarket Films. The pact marks the latest deal for the company, which also acquired Nicole Kassell's acclaimed dramatic competition entry, "The Woodsman." In another confirmed deal, a rep for David Caffrey's "Grand Theft Parsons" told indieWIRE on Friday that Blockbuster's DEJ Productions has acquired the Sundance '04 midnight movie.
Other films expected to secure pacts in the coming days include Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky's "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster," Jehane Noujaim's "Control Room," and Jean-Francois Pouliot's "Seducing Doctor Lewis."