By Gregg Goldstein gcgoldstein@yahoo.com

Sundance Sales Chart – Day Nine

by Gregg Goldstein

Film Section Sales

Co

Odds Pros Cons First

Screening

Today’s Top Five
Push: Based on the

novel by Sapphire

DrComp Cin 2:1 Standing O for audacious portrait of abused girl; vivid performances by Mo’Nique and wacky supporting cast (Mariah Carey, Sherry Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz). A TWC/BET partnership one of several possibilities; expected to close before awards ceremony. … but how long will it take? And how do you sell it? Out-of-town buyer screenings may answer those questions 1/16, 8p, Racquet Club
Spread Prem CAA/

End

3:1 Gigolo satire from sexpert helmer of “Young Adam.” Lots of T (female) and A (Ashton Kutcher). Played like a wide-release commercial film but distributors not putting out what sellers want. Will Summit return to the table? Some don’t feel it lives up to the sum of its body parts, others low-balling offers. Ashton Kutcher and Anne Heche don’t scream “smart comedy” to prospective moviegoers. 1/17, 9:15p, Eccles
Moon Premieres 3:1 Compelling 2001-style sci-fi thriller getting good buzz from two P&I screenings. Sony Pictures WW Acq Group has English language rights and looking for theatrical partner Perennial Sundance fave Sam Rockwell, the only on-screen talent, not a box office draw. If that good, why is Sony looking to partner? 1/23, 6:15p, Eccles
The September Issue Doc Comp CAA 3:1 Rare inside look at the alleged inspiration for “The Devil Wear’s Prada,” Vogue’s Anna Wintour; some positive early buzz. Sellers still have to convince buyers it’s as theatrical as its subject and that there’s enough Devil with the Prada; no immediate nibbles 1/16, 6:30p, Rose Wagner
I Love You Phillip Morris Prem CAA/

End

3:1 A Carrey/McGregor prison romance from writers of “Bad Santa.”Good reviews flowing in for true con-man story with a dozen twists, some great audience response. A comedy? A drama? A romance? A crime thriller? One thing’s for sure, lots of gay sex. Buyers dragging feet, waiting for better deal on big names. 1/18, 9:30p, Eccles
Other Narratives In Play
Paper Heart DrComp UTA 4:1 Two words: Michael Cera. Sale of flawed all-star “Brooklyn’s Finest” bodes well; some in audience responded well … … some, not so much. Response at premiere didn’t improve muted reaction to screener much 1/17, 8p, Racquet Club
Five Minutes of Heaven World DrComp UTA 4:1 Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt and director of “Downfall” Violence in Northern Ireland. Good times. 1/19, 6:30p, Egyptian
Cold Souls DrComp Cin 4:1 Giamatti, Strathairn, Watson, Ambrose in a unique “metaphysical tragi-comedy”; Canadian rights acquired by E1 Films Canada; more screenings warming things up a bit Chilly response from some south of the border, but buyers may be warming to it. 1/17, 5:15p, Racquet Club
Amreeka Dr Comp WM 5:1 Sometimes humorous, very topical struggle of Palestinian mom on West Bank; some positive reviews could make for a late pickup No stars, Iraq war backdrop, and some not as enthusiastic; will need more critical response 1/17, 12:15p, Eccles
Endgame Prem End 5:1 Good cast (Hurt, Ejiofor) in South African apartheid thriller garnering a few good reviews Did anyone get to see it? CNN currently chock full of other real-life political thrillers 1/18, 6:15p, Eccles
The Greatest DrComp End/

CAA

5:1 Tearjerker with Brosnan and Sarandon called “as fine a debut as we can present”; packed an emotional wallop for many and said to be moving. Son dies in car accident: not a great sales pitch. Buyers interested, but no one is crying for an immediate sale. 1/17, 3:15p, Eccles
World’s Greatest Dad Spectrum CAA/

Cin

5:1 Robin Williams in another dark comedy from Bobcat Goldthwait. Some loved it, and said to be momentous … … others felt it was just crass with flawed execution of good idea. Buyers won’t kill themselves if they don’t get it. 1/18, 5:30p, Library
Don’t Let Me Drown DrComp Loeb

Loeb

6:1 Latino high schoolers in post-9/11 romantic drama; getting some very positive reaction and potential awards traction No stars, premise depressing on paper. 1/18, 12:15p, Eccles
Motherhood Premieres End 6:1 Harried-mom comedy with Thurman, Edwards, Driver Urban anxiety can make for anxious audiences; may be a bit slower than hoped for in finding the right parents. 1/21, 9:30p, Eccles
Peter and Vandy DrComp End 6:1 Some good buzz behind Manhattan romance with Sundance “Teeth” award-winner Weixler Unclear if played well enough to break out, overcome lack of star power 1/19, 8p, Racquet Club
Shrink Premieres WM 6:1 “In Treatment” has proven the appeal of therapy dramas Spacey’s star power has shrunk; Hollywood inside baseball? Experiencing some shrinkage 1/20, 11p, Holiday Village II
The Messenger Premieres UTA 5:1 Talented scribe Oren Moverman’s directing debut, and some seem to like it Another Iraq war drama; Ben Foster, Harrelson have spotty track records 1/19, 9:30p, Eccles
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Dr Comp CAA 7:1 Hot star John Krasinski directing, starring and adapting from David Foster Wallace novel Response not hideous, but not great 1/19, 3:15p. Eccles
Arlen Faber Dr Comp CAA/

ICM

8:1 Daniels, Graham, Pucci in romantic tale of reclusive author Jury still out, but some mixed-to-negative reactions. 1/18, 5:15p, Racquet Club
The Killing Room Mid CAA 8:1 Psychological thriller with compelling premise and solid indie cast slayed some audience members … … while others feel it’s a pretentious “Saw”; could middling response kill its chances? 1/16, 11:30a, Prospector
Big Fan DrComp Andr

Hur

8:1 Some champions for dark sports fanatic spoof directed by “The Wrestler” scribe. Others not such big fans; momentum slowing. Despite good performance, star Patton Oswalt an unproven commodity. 1/18, 8p, Racquet Club
The Vicious Kind Spectrum ICM 8:1 Tough portrait of emotionally damaged man; getting some good buzz See “Pros”; more need to see for verdict 1/17, 8:30p, Library
Dare DrComp xCin 9:1 Sex-charged teen romance featuring Emmy Rossum Not great buzz. 1/19, 5:15p, Racquet Club
Manure Premieres v 10:1 Thornton, Leoni, McLachlan in what could be the Polish Bros’ Coen Bros moment with a ’60s period comedy Polish Bros artiness sometimes overwhelms all else 1/20, 9:30p, Eccles
Mary & Max Opening Night Icon 10:1 Quirky Aussie claymation from Oscar-winning director good enough to attract Hoffman and Collette Too quirky for many at the opening night screening, garnering mixed reactions 1/15, 6p, Eccles
Mystery Team Midnight Sub 10:1 Potential sleeper with foul-mouthed teens; could hit right chord; got some good reviews. Others not as enthused by comedy troupe’s feature as their online shorts. No-name cast. 1/17, 11:30p, Library
Toe To Toe DrComp WM 10:1 Complicated relationship between two female high school teammates; interracial issues a hot topic. A few good reviews. No stars, and some uncertainty. Buzz not strong, but can later word-of-mouth help? 1/16, 3:15p, Eccles
Helen Spectrum Little 12:1 Ashley Judd sinks her teeth into bipolar role, and can sell some ancillary Seems to be depressing buyers, and audience response is tepid; living up to its name for some. 1/16, 8:45, Library
Other Documentaries In Play
Art & Copy Doc Comp Sub 4:1 Ad industry study getting good word of mouth; could it be this year’s “Helvetica?” Amidst interest, some are questioning commercial appeal 1/16, 5:30p, Prospector
The Carter Midnight Cin 4:1 One of the hottest selling rappers in a hurting music biz, Lil’ Wayne. Not much rapping among buyers, but the fest is young; will the audience for this film go to the theater or wait for DVD? Or copy the DVD making the rounds at festivals? 1/17, Midnight Eccles
Good Hair Doc Comp ICM 4:1 If every black hair magazine reader buys a ticket to producer/star Chris Rock’s comic, celeb-filled take on the topic, it’s a hit. Great early reaction. Interest in niche topic could be hair today, gone tomorrow 1/18, 9p, Temple
Passing Strange Spectrum: Docu Spotlight End 4:1 Spike Lee filmed this unconventional, Tony-nominated musical, and both names will help sell the project: some good initial word growing Still has to show its theatrical pull 1/16, 2:30p, Library
The Cove Doc Comp Sub/

WM

5:1 Fascination with dolphins may propel sale of this dark tale; some very emotional audience reactions and sold-out screenings Animal Planet shows wade in similar waters 1/18, 3p, Temple
We Live In Public Doc Comp Sub/

Cin

5:1 Stranger than fiction dot-com boom art experiment from Web entrepreneur; living up to some initial hype/ Must rise above Discovery Channel audience interest to sell 1/19, 6p, Temple
Reporter Doc Comp Films

Trans

6:1 A New York Times reporter’s valiant attempt to put an African crisis on the map speaks volumes about the state of journalism today Most political docs have had a tough box office ride 1/16, 9:30p, Temple
When You’re Strange Doc Comp Sub/

Cin

8:1 Indie vet Tom DiCillo unveils all-original footage of The Doors Video sales assured, but will it break on through to theatrical? Some not loving it two times … or even once. 1/17, 9p, Temple
No Impact Man Spectrum: Docu Spotlight Cin 8:1 Family undertakes controversial experiment to live a year with no carbon footprint; could tap “An Inconvenient Truth” audience Another inconvenient truth: many socially conscious docs have no theatrical impact 1/16, 11:30a, Library
Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy Spectrum WM 8:1 Robert Townsend interviews a Who’s Who of top comedians. The next Kings of Comedy? DVD co. is a producer, so no pressure for theatrical sale 1/17, 5:30p, Prospector
Big River Man World Doc Comp Salt 20:1 Slovenian man’s attempt at record swim could be Michael Phelps meets “Grizzly Man” No waves just yet. 1/16, 3:15p, HV4

FILMS SOLD SO FAR …

Film Buyer Sales

Co

Section Pros Cons First

Screening

Adam Fox Searchlight Film Sales Co. DrComp Manhattan 20-something romance with Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne; hey, they did well with “Once” Common quote from execs on Monday night party circuit: They’re buying that movie? 1/16, 6:15p. Eccles
Brooklyn’s Finest Senator Ent

& Sony Pictures

WM/

CAA

Prem Gere, Cheadle, Hawke, Snipes, Barkin in cop drama from “Training Day” director. Film went out with a bang audiences hated, but director is cutting. Not the feel-good film of the year. Audience liked sections of it, hated others, but helmer has until fall to tweak. 1/16, 6:15p. Eccles
Black Dynamite Sony Pictures End Mid Good response leads to overnight sale. May be too culty for its own good, but at 2 million a safe bet. 1/18, 11:30p, Library
Humpday Magnolia Sub DrComp Straight best buds link for gay porn; those who loved it really have a hard-on for it… No stars, a premise not for the squeamish, and failed to turn a few on 1/16, 12:15p, Eccles
An Education Sony Picutres Classics CAA 3:1 ’60s coming-of-age romance from scribe Nick Hornby with Sarsgaard, Molina, Thompson and a breakout Mulligan Despite the pedigree, still no bankable stars. 1/18, 3p, Egyptian
In The Loop IFC Films Prot/WM 3:1 James Gandolfini in satire of war and politics could be a sleeper hit; seemed to live up to initial promise for most Small, filled with unknown Brits and distinctly British humour 1/19, 11:15a, Yarrow
The Winning Season Lionsgate Cin 4:1 Female “Bad News Bears” dramedy centering on high school basketball team, Emma Roberts, late add like top-seller “Hamlet 2″; some found very charming … Sam Rockwell films sell big at Sundance, but haven’t performed. 1/19, 8:30p, Library

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“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. It’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful. People don’t realize what goes into making a movie like that. It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie. In Middle America it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I’m not going to go see it because it must suck.’ But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it’s not always correct. I’ve seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores. What’s sad is film criticism has disappeared. It’s really sad.”
~ Brett Ratner Has A Sad

“The loss of a local newspaper critic is a real loss. People who know the local audience and know the local cultural scene are very important resources. You can’t just substitute the stuff that comes in from nowhere through syndication or the wire. I think at the same time, some of the newer outlets have really beefed up and improved their coverage and made room for criticism. The real problem is in the more specialized art forms — fine arts, classical music, dance and jazz, say. There is a real slowing of critical voices, partly because those art forms have smaller audiences. Newspapers and magazines can say that doesn’t get enough traffic, so we don’t have room for that. To me, that’s especially worrisome. This is the opposite of what newspapers are supposed to do, which is not to try to figure out what people are already interested in and recite that back to them, but to hopefully guide them to something that they should be interested in, connecting potential audiences with more interesting work.

“Then again, not everyone needs a critic. People have been going to movies for more than 100 years now, and probably the vast majority of those people have not read movie reviews or cared what critics thought. But there has always been an important subset that wants to know more, that wants to think about what they’ve seen and what they’re going to see, and wants someone to think along with. I think critics are important, not just as dispensers of consumer advice — though that’s certainly part of it, too — but as trusted voices and companions for people to argue with in your head when you’re going to movies or afterwards.”
~ A. O. Scott