By Gregg Goldstein gcgoldstein@yahoo.com

Sundance Sales Chart Day Ten

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, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz). A TWC/BET partnership one of several possibilities; hoped-for close before awards ceremony.
… but how long will it take? And how do you sell it? Both buyers and sellers carefully weighing release strategy for tough material
1/16, 8p, Racquet Club
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
Art & Copy
Doc Comp
Sub
4:1
Ad industry study getting good word of mouth; could it be this year’s “Helvetica?” Growing sales buzz.
Amidst interest, some are questioning commercial appeal
1/16, 5:30p, Prospector
The September Issue
Doc Comp
CAA
4:1
Rare inside look at the alleged inspiration for “The Devil Wear’s Prada,” Vogue’s Anna Wintour; some positive buzz and interest ramping up..
Sellers still have to convince buyers it’s as theatrical as its subject and that there’s enough Devil with the Prada.
1/16, 6:30p, Rose Wagner
The Greatest
DrComp
End/
CAA
4:1
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. Buyers interested, could be tears of joy soon, if talk is to be believed.
Son dies in car accident: not a great sales pitch.
1/17, 3:15p, 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
Don’t Let Me Drown
DrComp
Loeb
Loeb
5:1
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
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
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
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
6:1
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
Big Fan
DrComp
Andr
Hur
7:1
Some champions for dark sports fanatic spoof directed by “The Wrestler” scribe. Manohla likes.
Others not such big fans; momentum slowing. Despite good performance, star Patton Oswalt an unproven commodity.
1/18, 8p, Racquet Club
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Dr Comp
CAA
8:1
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
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 theatrical chances?
1/16, 11:30a, Prospector
The Vicious Kind
Spectrum
ICM
8:1
Tough portrait of emotionally damaged man; getting some good buzz
See “Pros”; very Sundance, and appears more dour on paper than it really is.
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; lives up to title for some.
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
11:1
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
11:1
Complicated relationship between two female high school teammates; interracial issues a hot topic. A few good reviews.
No stars, also very Sundance. Sales buzz not strong, but is this the kind of movie the jury will go for?
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
Moon
Premieres
1000:1
Compelling 2001-style sci-fi thriller getting good buzz from two P&I screenings. Sony Pictures WW Acq Group has English language rights and was quietly looking for theatrical partner, but went for in-house SPC.
Perennial Sundance fave Sam Rockwell, the only on-screen talent, not a box office draw. If that good, why was Sony looking to partner?
1/23, 6:15p, Eccles
Other Documentaries In Play
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 the festival?
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
4:1
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
7:1
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 thatmovie? 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
Spread
Anchor Bay/TVA
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. 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
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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Quote Unquotesee all »

The Atlantic: You saw that the Academy Awards recently held up your 2001 acceptance speech as the Platonic ideal of an Oscar speech. Did you have a reaction?

Soderbergh: Shock and dismay. When that popped up and people started texting me about it, I said, “Oh, it’s too bad I’m not there to tell the story of how that took place.” Well. I was not sober at the time. And I had nothing prepared because I knew I wasn’t going to win [Best Director for Traffic]. I figured Ridley, Ang or Daldry would win. So I was hitting the bar pretty hard, having a great night, feeling super-relaxed because I don’t have to get up there. So the combination of a 0.4 blood alcohol level and lack of preparation resulted in me, in my state of drunkenness crossed with adrenaline surge. I was coherent enough to know that [if I tried to thank everyone], that way lies destruction. So I went the other way. There were some people who appreciated that, and there were some people who really wanted to hear their names said, and I had to apologize to them.
~ Steven Soderbergh

 

“I have made few films in a way. I never made action films. I never made science fiction films. I never made, really, very complicated settings, because I had modest ambitions. I knew they would never trust me to have the budget to do something different, so my mind is more focused on things I know. So they were always mental adventures I wanted to approach and share. Working for cinema with no – not only no money, but also no ambition for money. I was happy and proud [to receive the honorary Oscar] because of that, that [the Academy] could understand what kind of work I have done over 60 years. I stayed faithful to the ideal of sharing emotion, impressions, and mostly because I have so much empathy for other people that I approach people who are not really spoken about. I have 65 years of work in my bag, and when I put the bag down, what comes out? It’s really the desire of finding links and relationships with different kinds of people. I never made a film about the bourgeoisie, about rich people. about nobility. My choices have been to show people that are, in a way, more common and see that each of them has something special and interesting, rare and beautiful. It’s my natural way of looking at people. I didn’t fight my instincts. And maybe that has been appreciated in the famous circle of Hollywood.“

Agnes Varda