The 5 Films Likeliest to Ignite a Sundance Bidding War
Your Movieline crew is preparing to brave the snow, swag and spectacle of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, which can mean only one thing: Reckless predictions of this year's titles most likely to ignite a distribution bidding war. Granted, Sundance isn't the market it was 10 years ago (or even five years ago); few buyers have any real money to lavish on acquisitions, and a "bidding war" today might mean a producer strings out a few interested parties overnight for a million-dollar (or less) deal. It could mean a couple cable channels scrapping over a documentary. Or, in more traditional style, it could mean buyers fighting to release the one where Kristen Stewart plays a hooker. Anything goes!
For the record, this isn't simply a catalog of star allure trolling for big buys (e.g. The Romantics, The Kids Are All Right) or the films necessarily having high-percentage shots of leaving Park City with a deal (e.g. The Extra Man, The Killer Inside Me). Instead, it's a fistful of educated guesses based on five wholly unseen films (some of which may turn out to completely suck), their casts and other principals, program descriptions, advance buzz (if any), social/cultural context and potential audiences. In other words: Pure speculation. Would you have it any other way?
[In alphabetical order]
· Blue Valentine
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A couple (Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) on the downslope of a marriage attempts to rekindle some of the spark that began their relationship -- a period framed in flashbacks.
UPSIDE: That cast! That drama! Gosling's reunion with his Half Nelson producers and cinematographer implies he'll turn in something awards-worthy, and Williams's performance -- matched with her own tormented relationship history -- will likely be a publicity magnet.
DOWNSIDE: An intense young cast means little if first-time filmmaker Derek Cianfrance can't harness them into something beyond abject Sundance melodrama.
POTENTIAL BUYERS: Sony Classics, Focus Features, Apparition
HOW MUCH? $3 million.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A civilian contractor (Ryan Reynolds) in Iraq is kidnapped and buried alive, with only a cell phone, a lighter and about 90 minutes to save himself before suffocating.
UPSIDE: Reynolds is coming off a terrific year in high-visibility hits (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Proposal), and come on: Who wouldn't want a crack at distributing the Ryan Reynolds-trapped-in-a-coffin movie?
DOWNSIDE: In the end, it is just the Ryan Reynolds-trapped-in-a-coffin movie. Despite a cast that also lists Samantha Mathis and Stephen Tobolowski, I'm told that Reynolds is indeed the only one onscreen in the film. Too much Ryan?
POTENTIAL BIDDING WARRIORS: Lionsgate, Magnet, Screen Gems
HOW MUCH? A little north of $1 million, maybe more if Screen Gems -- Sony's genre label, and not generally a huge fest buyer -- gets involved.
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