By Gregg Goldstein gcgoldstein@yahoo.com

Sony Pictures Classics Nabs North American and Latin American Rights to An Education in $3 Million Deal

By Gregg Goldstein
Sony Pictures Classics has nabbed North American and Latin American rights to An Education in a $3 million deal, following a winding series of deal moves since its Sunday premiere that had Miramax and Fox Searchlight in play.
With all the buzz about Searchlight’s low bid on the 60s coming-of-age saga An Education — first from Anne Thompson‘s blog late Sunday, then from THR late Monday — two important players were overlooked: Miramax and Sony Pictures Classics.
As every big indie exec attended the Sunday night screening of I Love You Phillip Morris starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, at least two titles were in play: the Saturday premiere sex comedy Spread (also co-repped by CAA and Endeavor – read about the possible sales impact from Ashton Kutcher‘s bodacious back end here – it’s expected to close soon) and the CAA-repped Education, which gained unexpected heat from a strong debut that afternoon.
Less than halfway through Morris, Miramax president Daniel Battsek and one of his execs bolted from their seats in the Eccles to pow-wow about Education. Like Searchlight (whose topper Peter Rice was also in the screening), they felt the high-seven-figure asking price was way too high.
By the time the Eccles screening ended, Miramax and Searchlight had backed off. But it was clearly a high priority if they were interested enough to leave one of the biggest marquee-name films of the fest (and a recipient of some great reviews, despite concerns over graphic gay sex scenes and drastic switches in tone).
By Monday night, the film’s agreed-upon market value was now back down to a Sony Pictures Classics-level price range. The company made some uncharacteristically early Sundance moves last year in similar situations when bidding wars failed to erupt, and Education is similar to several period/pedigree films they’ve handled before.
Any of the distributors could do a great marketing job – both Battsek and Rice know the film’s British milieu, that’s for sure – but all have to overcome having a talented cast with no boxoffice pull, taking a bit of a risk on quality. The last Sundance film led by its star Peter Sarsgaard, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, just sold to Peace Arch… a year after its premiere here. But Nick Hornby’s script and Lone Scherfing’s script have drawn acclaim, and young newcomer Carey Mulligan’s breakout performance as a 16-year-old London girl swept off her feet by a British playboy could be marketed well in the right hands.
After buying stayed in a holding pattern, SPC swept into the lead, willing to outbid competitors that usually sign bigger checks. Endgame Entertainment (which recently sold its Chorus Line doc Every Little Step to Sony Classics) and BBC Films produced the film, which is expected to open this fall.

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~ Isabelle Huppert

The Promised Land steers into the fact that the United States can mean whatever people want it to mean. You may not be able to be Elvis, but you can sure as shit impersonate him for a living. America, like its current President (at least as of this article’s publication), is so dangerous precisely because it’s a blank canvas on which anyone can project their dreams. Whatever it is that you see for yourself, there’s someone you can pay for the pleasure of believing that it’s possible. In his view, the pursuit of happiness is the ultimate con, a delusion that prevents us from seeing our circumstances for what they are.

“Forget the Matrix, it’s the invention of happiness that blinded us to the truth. The rich got richer and the poor help them do it. Jarecki doesn’t argue that the American Dream is dead; he argues that it was never alive in the first place — that we were all lobsters in a pot full of water that was boiling too slowly for any of us to notice. And now it’s time for dinner. Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States. Elvis has left the building.”
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