Michel Gondry's latest, "The Science of Sleep," an at times romantic look inside the mind of one of the most distinctive directors working today, has been nabbed for $6 million by Warner Independent Pictures. The company acquired U.S., Canadian and U.K. rights to the movie, closing the deal at 4 a.m. today, following yesterday's Sundance Film Festival world premiere at the Eccles in Park City, UT. The Indiewood company beat out a number of other studio specialty divisions to secure the deal.
Chatting with indieWIRE this afternoon, Warner Independent president Mark Gill called the film "breathtakingly original," saying that the film is both "clever and has a heart -- which is really hard to do." He added, "Its just about as distinctive a movie as I have seen in a few years. Gill added that he is eyeing a release either this summer or fall.
The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alain Chabat, Miou Miou, Aurelia Petit and Sacha Bourdo. Produced by George Bermann and Frederic Junqua, it is understood to have been financed by Gaumont from France for about $3 million.
Mark Gill and Paul Federbush (SVP of production and acquisitions at Warner Independent) negotiated the pact with Loic Trocme, the head of sales at Gaumont, Robert Offer of Sloane Offer Weber Dern (Gondry's lawyer,) and UTA, CAA, and Jamie Feldman from Lichter, Grossman, Nichols & Adler on behalf of Gaumont.
IFC Unveils New Day & Date Banner
Chatting before a screening the other day here in Park City, the head of an Indiewood company and the head of a New York indie distributor were debating the coming day and date release of Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble." The Indiewood guy was hassling the indie guy for being in favor of such strategies, and for a few moments, the exchange seemed to get rather heated.
Clearly, there are some vocal proponents and opponents of the plan by companies like 2929 Entertainment to collapse distribution windows. Today in Park City, IFC Entertainment formally announced its own move into the arena, unveiling IFC's First Take, a new distribution banner debuting in March that will release at least 24 films theatrically and on demand -- day and date -- this year.
The new service is being billed by the company as a new national art house for first run independent films.
Among the films set for the slate are Kevin Willmott's "CSA: Confederate States of America," Caveh Zahedi's "I Am A Sex Addict," Hou Hsiao Hsien's "Three Times," Aric Avelino's "American Gun," Cedric Klapisch's "Russian Dolls," and Jeff Stanzler's "Sorry, Haters."
"These aren't the films that the studio are looking at," explained IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring, when asked about recent criticisms of day and date distribution from studio and Indiewood execs. He added that media outlets, including the New York Times have been receptive to the idea.
The video on demand element will include the option for cable subscribers to access new films each month, on the same day that the films open theatrically at the IFC Center in New York. The company added that Landmark Theaters has agreed to participate as an exhibitor in the program. He also said that Regal/AMC Theaters have declined to participate in the day and date distribution model, but added that other exhibitors are willing to give it a chance on a case by case basis.
"I think that there are some people out there who kind of have their head in the sand," said IFC Center head John Vanco during a panel discussion Monday at the Premiere Lounge to announce the plan. "I think that the challenge to the exhibitor is how to have a better theatrical experience, to compete with the home experience." He was joined on the panel (moderated by Anne Thompson of the Hollywood Reporter,) by IFC Center' Vanco, head of marketing Ryan Werner, head of acquisitions Sarah Lash, and filmmaker Gary Winick.
"There are a lot of risky, smart, quirky films that can't get out there," explained Werner, "We are going to be supporting this in a big way, it will be good for filmmakers," with Sehring adding later, "I think that the video on demand will create word of mouth for movies in the theaters."
"Tragedia" Acquired by Arrival Pictures
Arrival Pictures announced that it has picked up domestic distribution rights to first-time filmmaker Pablo Veliz's "La Tragedia de Macario". The film, which is screening in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival's Spectrum program, is about a Mexican peasant worker who journeys to the U.S. with his best friend in search of a better life. It premiered on Friday afternoon at the Library Center Theatre. The festival describes Veliz as having "a beautiful eye and ear for the inner lives of the truly desperate...[it is] a film far more accomplished than [Veliz's] youth...would suggest possible."
[This article has been corrected. Meg Reber contributed to this article.]
[Get the latest from the Sundance Film Festival throughout the day in indieWIRE's special Park City '06 section.]