5 Films That Could Start Distrubutor Bidding War at Sundance 2013

5 Films That Could Start Distrubutor Bidding War at Sundance 2013

by Oliver Lyttelton


5 Films That Could Start Distributor Bidding Wars At Sundance 2013


JANUARY 18, 2013 10:56 AM

After kicking off last night with Sebastian Silva's "Crystal Fairy," the Sundance Film Festival is now underway -- movie goers and critics will, in a couple of hours, start lining up for the first full day of the fest, with "Kill Your Darlings," "The Spectacular Now" and "Sound City" among the high-profile pictures of the day.

As we discussed yesterday, Sundance is one of the big markets for companies to pick up films for the coming year, as almost nothing comes to the festival with a distributor already in place. Sometimes, it works out brilliantly, sometimes, not so much.

But with the festival now getting underway properly, we thought we'd take a stab at highlighting the five films that we think are most likely to kick off serious bidding wars. This is all, it should be said, sight unseen, but sometimes the quality is less important than the package, and the below should all be among the big ticket buys of the next ten days or so. Stay tuned throughout the fest for our continuing Sundance coverage.

"Before Midnight"
We'd actually assumed when we came to write this feature that 
Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight," the third part of the trilogy that began with "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset," and one of the most anticipated films of the festival, already had a distributor. The first film was released byColumbia, the second by Warner Bros, each through deals with the films' producers Castle Rock Entertainment, and we'd figured that a similar system would operate for the third. And while IMDB lists the movie with Warner Bros, the Greece-setEthan Hawke/Julie Delpy reteam actually doesn't have a U.S. distributor, which must make it one of the hotter prospects at the festival. Admittedly, the films are hardly blockbusters -- they made $5.5 million and $5.8 million domestically on their releases back in 1995 and 2004 (though 'Sunset' did even better business overseas). But we'd wager that they're probably big home video hits, and over the time, the films have been become cherished by scores of fans. We'd wager this would be an ace multi-platform release for an indie shingle, who could do very well with a limited theatrical/VOD rollout. But in any event, there will be more than few folks kicking the tires on this one.

"Ain't Them Bodies Saints"
Much of the buzz going into the festival is centered on this period lovers-on-the-run tale from acclaimed shorts filmmaker 
David Lowery (who we can pretty much guarantee has the best mustache in Park City). Crime pictures are always an attractive buy at the fest (see everything from "Reservoir Dogs" to "Animal Kingdom"), and this one comes with some big names on board. In addition to familiar character actors likeKeith Carradine, Ben Foster, Nate Parker andRami Malek, it features Casey Affleck and the continually rising Rooney Mara in the lead roles, and that's surely enough to get the buyers lining up. Plus, all the whispers we've heard about the film suggest that it's about to make Lowery's name in a big, big way. It's likely to be more "Badlands" than "Lawless," but even so, we'd expect all the top players to be lining up for this one.

"Don Jon's Addiction"
After being essentially anointed the next Batman at the end of "The Dark Knight Rises," and leading sleeper hit "Looper,Joseph Gordon-Levitt has become one of the most in-demand leading men around. Indeed, "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Godzilla" are among the films he's turned down of late, while he 
recently joined the highly anticipated "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For." So it's understandable that distributors will be keeping a close eye on this one, especially with Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore also in the cast, and the film seemingly being a light rom-com ish look at a modern-day lothario. It's the sort of thing that could have the mini-majors throwing cash at it, but directorial debuts by actors don't always have the best track record. (Remember Mark Ruffalo's "Sympathy For Delicious" a few years back?) Someone will pick it up, but who, and how much they pay, will likely be dependent on the reviews.

"The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman"
Seemingly one of the more openly commercial pictures at the festival this year, the long-in-development "The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman" could be a sort of teen-friendly version of "Drive" -- stylish visuals, courtesy of commercials director Fredrik Bond, a mix of romance and violence, and an attractive, young-skewing cast including Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Rupert Grint and James Buckley, plus vets likeMads Mikkelsen and Melissa Leo. Unlike a coming-of-age story or low-key indie, 'Charlie Countryman' is a straight ahead genre flick, and one that is already an easier sell to whoever snaps it up. As always, how the film is received will be a big determining factor, but the script made the Black List (and helped attract this calibre cast for the first time feature filmmaker) and if the tricky balance of tones can be pulled off and Sundance audiences are receptive, we'd 
wager this could be one of the big sells of the festival.