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in Filmmaking
on Jan 20, 2008

Before arriving at Sundance, if people asked what I thought the business climate was going to be, I told them that if they had a film with name cast and genre hooks enabling it to be sold as something other than a speciality film that the bidding would be strong. Traditional “small” speciality films might have a harder time given the poor theatrical performance of last year’s Sundance titles.

So far, I don’t think my prediction is far off, although it’s too early to tell how strong the bidding will be for the larger titles. One industry vet told me tonight that “everything that should sell will sell,” meaning that all of the decently budgeted films with star casting will walk away from here with deals. These films include The Wackness, Sunshine Cleaning, and What Just Happened, among others. So far I’ve yet to hear much business talk about the smaller films, although it’s still early in the festival — usually the acquisition announcements start picking up steam on Monday.

In terms of the buzz, Marina Zenovitch’s Roman Polanski doc is well liked and sold to the Weinstein Company for international. The word is that a domestic deal is imminent; Nanette Burstein’s American Teen has great word of mouth and heavy distributor interest. Although some early reports cited mixed response for Jonathan Levine’s The Wackness, it played well at the press and industry screening today, and I’ve heard that there is distributor interest on this one as well. There’s great buzz on the Spanish sci-fi thriller Time Crimes, the remake rights of which have been bought by United Artists. Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River has its fans (including me). It’s a strong character-based regional drama, the type Sundance has been known for, but it is also has well balanced thriller elements and particularly resonant political themes. Of the unscreened titles, there seems to be a lot of anticipation for Andrew Fleming’s comedy Hamlet 2, which is written by Fleming and South Park‘s Pam Brady.

More later….

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