The 5 Films Likeliest to Ignite a Sundance Bidding War


· The Company Men

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A corporate hot shot (Ben Affleck) and his peers attempt to come to grips with his downsizing.

UPSIDE: In addition to Affleck, first-time feature director John Wells (best known for writing and co-producing a zillion episodes of ER) has Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper and Kevin Costner set to deliver the dramatic chops in a story as topical as any at Sundance.

DOWNSIDE: Could be too politically on-the-nose for most buyers, especially if Wells's small-screen gifts don't translate to the cinema.

POTENTIAL BUYERS: Summit, Overture, The Weinstein Company

HOW MUCH? $5 million, maybe up to $6 million if the critics buy into it.


· Hesher

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A 13-year-old boy whose mother recently died befriends a batshit anarchist (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Chaos ensues.

UPSIDE: Natalie Portman co-stars. Enough said.

DOWNSIDE: Are audiences ready to buy into Gordon-Levitt as a stringy-haired, sociopathic source of madness?

POTENTIAL BUYERS: Fox Searchlight, Magnolia, Lionsgate

HOW MUCH? Not a penny more than $2.5 million.


· Welcome to the Rileys

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A couple (James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo) mourning the death of their teenage daughter in dramatically different ways attempt to rebuild their lives.

UPSIDE: Jake Scott's feature directorial debut is all class, with the executive-producer imprimatur of father Ridley Scott and uncle Tony (not to mention Ridley's collaborator Steven Zaillian) and a cast featuring James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo and Kristen Stewart as a teenaged prostitute in New Orleans. OK, mostly all class.

DOWNSIDE: Could turn out to be this year's The Greatest, which fizzled at Sundance '09 with a similar story line and Big Actor Moments cranked to 11.

POTENTIAL BUYERS: Overture, Fox Searchlight, Lionsgate

HOW MUCH? The bidding starts at $4.5 million.

Keep score this week and next at Movieline, where we'll report the latest deals as they happen. And feel free to suggest your own bidding-war candidates in the comments.

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  • Dan Cranston says:

    What? There are no non-US films worth considering? How bloody myopic can you be?!

  • Jed Strong says:

    Who came up with these batshit numbers??????? Likely some 17 year old intern working out of Cassian Elwes kitchen aka his new office.
    The best Sundance sales from 2009 didn't break $4.5M for multi-territory deals (and most of the distribs who bought them domestically didn't even pay out, which led to films like "Brooklyn's Finest" having to be flipped or fire sold).
    "Welcome to the Rileys"... are you effing kidding? That project got passed on more times than Carrie Prejean at a NAMBLA convention until Ridley Scott wrote the check himself to get his son a film directing gig (Scott Free is nepotism central and they'd put their name on a fart if the fart paid them... see the A-Team whose script they apparently didn't even read before signing on).
    "The Company Men" has screened at for buyers at other markets and if it was worth what this delusional writer says it is, then it would have been sold at Cannes and already in theaters.
    Sundance has become a flea market, so expect those prices to range from $250k on the low to $2.5M on the high for the titles mentioned.
    With a small amount of buyers and lots of product, it behooves all the distribs to play wait and see (and save their money for platform P&A versus large advances... especially since these kinds of films rely on strong word of mouth or else the go straight to a Redbox near you).
    As for these so called buyers, Magnet doesn't have bidding wars... they have yard sales. Overture is being sold or going bust (Malone is apparently over McGuirk and Rossett's lake of vision and revenue). Magnolia pays no money.
    The indie boom days are over... and until people start making great or commercial indie films again they won't be back.

  • Sabrina says:

    I've read the script for 'Buried' and I must say it is pretty amazing. I really do hope that it gets bought at Sundance.

  • w says:

    I read the script for Buried also Sabrina, and I share your hope that it gets bought at Sundance as well. Loved the teaser trailer and clip that hit the net this week.

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