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Sundance Tuesday Roundup

Sundance07logo_22 [Posted by Gregg Goldstein, Nicole Sperling and Anne Thompson]

As the unexpectedly insane feeding frenzy at the Sundance Film Festival was burgeoning out of control, larger-than-life indie mogul Harvey Weinstein continued to gobble up a smorgasbord of films. In the wake of deals for "Grace Is Gone" and a co-buy with Lionsgate of "Teeth," the Weinstein Co., partnering with First Look Studios, bought worldwide rights to the Justin Theroux-directed romantic comedy "Dedication" for $4 million. Then, partnering with Fox Searchlight, it took world rights on the Mexican heart-tugger "La Misma Luna" for $5 million-$6 million.

Paramount Vantage, which seemed to be staying out of the spotlight, announced Tuesday the acquisition of worldwide rights to two films, "How She Move," for which it paid slightly $3 million in partnership with MTV Films, and "Son of Rambow," the fest's biggest buy so far at about $7 million. Each figure was confirmed by two sources close to the deal. Those two purchases were notable because neither film features any recognizable actors.

"It's like Bloomingdale's before Christmas," said ThinkFilm's Mark Urman, who plunked down a hefty sum -- more than $2.5 million -- for the docu "In the Shadow of the Moon." "It's a stronger collection of films. It's ironic that Sundance wanting to focus on films that were less commercial has made the festival more of a market than ever."

New distributor After Dark Films ("An American Haunting") picked up worldwide rights to writer-director Adam Bhala Lough's "Weapons" for a little more than $1 million. The violent drama probably will be released through After Dark's nonexclusive 30-picture output deal with Lionsgate. "Weapons" is set for release in the fourth quarter.

Magnolia Pictures negotiated its second Sundance purchase into the wee hours Tuesday morning when it bought North American and U.K. rights to the horror film "The Signal" at 3 a.m. Magnolia bought the picture for slightly less than $2 million, an hour after it first screened at a midnight showing at the Egyptian Theatre. Magnolia's Eamonn Bowles confirmed that he was finalizing the sale.

While several buyers from ThinkFilm to SPC were circling John Carney's unconventional $100,000 Irish musical "Once," producer Samson Films chose to partner with Summit Entertainment to sell worldwide rights (excluding Ireland).

Fortissimo Films acquired all international sales rights (excluding China) to the World War II docu "Nanking." Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman's film was produced by AOL vice chairman Ted Leonsis. The deal was negotiated by CAA on behalf of Leonsis and by Wouter Barendrecht and Winnie Lau on behalf of Fortissimo. A North American sale is expected this week.

Other films still in play are "Chicago 10," which docu-friendly ThinkFilm is circling as well as "Snow Angels" and "The Ten," which buyers are hoping will get cheaper as time goes by. "Hounddog," the Dakota Fanning Southern gothic picture that drummed up a hailstorm of controversy before its first screening, earned a mixed response from audiences, critics and distributors, who admired Fanning's performance more than the filmmaking.

For more details and news, check out the full roundup here.


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  • Risky Biz blog takes a deep, daily look at the film industry's ups, downs and deals from around the world and the heart of Hollywood. It is edited by media and entertainment journalist Steven Zeitchik, with contributions from The Hollywood Reporter's worldwide team of film editors and reporters. Zeitchik is a Los Angeles-based writer for THR and also has written for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

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