2015 was a strong year for idiosyncratic features at the tony Sundance Film Festival nestled in the Wasatch Mountains of Park City, Utah. It was a seller’s paradise for the first time in several sluggish years with over 30 of the 123 festival features achieving some sort of acquisition deal.
Global warming once again produced an almost snow-free environment but many of the deals were hot! In the $6 million to $9 million dollar range, were stand-outs such as grand jury and audience award prize winner “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” picked up by Fox Searchlight, which also grabbed the immigrant story titled “Brooklyn” ($ 9 million), and Noah Baumbach’s “Mistress America”, while Open Road/Sony scored “Dope” ($7 million). A sampling of some of the other deals reported by the trade press included a new distributor named Broad Green scooping up the Nick Nolte-Robert Redford hiking dramedy titled “A Walk in the Woods” for a reported high seven figures, Alchemy (formerly Millennium) picking up the Nicole Kidman thriller “Strangerland”and “Zipper” about a sex addicted legal counselor for about $1 to $2 million and another newbie distributor called The Orchard snapping up the comedy “The Overnight” as well as Joe Swanberg’s “Digging for Fire” and the quirky documentary “Finders Keepers” about a legal battle over a severed human leg.
Documentary grand prize winner “Wolfpack”, about six brothers whose lives revolve around a television set, got a high six figure deal from Magnolia despite a mixed response from audiences. Other films getting modest deals included: “The Bronze” with a sex scene you won’t forget, “I Smile Back” with Sarah Silverman’s dramatic performance “knocking it out of the park”, “The D Train” with Jack Black and James Marsden kicking it around and Jason Segel giving an amazing performance as the late author David Foster Wallace in “The End of the Tour”. Lastly, a documentary titled “Hot Girls Wanted” examines the porn industry on the web in a way you’ve never seen before.