Studios snap up Sundance favorites, boosting indie film market


Movie studios have been searching for the next big thing at the Sundance Film Festival after the critical and commercial success of indie films such as "Beasts of the Southern Wild" with a slew of business deals being made during the festival.

The biggest purchase came midway through the 10-day event when Fox Searchlight paid about $10 million for quirky coming-of-age comedy "The Way, Way Back", starring Steve Carell and Toni Collette, according to sources close to the deal.

"The Way, Way Back" is the directorial debut of Oscar-winning screenwriters Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who penned last year's hit "The Descendants".

While eight-figure deals are rare at Sundance, Fox Searchlight, a division of 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp , is a regular big spender at the festival.

The studio dropped more than $10 million in 2006 for "Little Miss Sunshine", another comedy starring Carell and Collette. The film grossed more than $60 million at the U.S. box office.

After a quiet acquisition year at the 2012 Sundance festival, RADiUS-TWC, the boutique multi-platform division of The Weinstein Company, snapped up five films.

The company, headed by former Magnolia Pictures executives Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, acquired the rights for music documentary "Twenty Feet From Stardom", about the journey of back-up singers.

Quinn described the film as "amazing and exceptional."

RADiUS also picked up distribution rights for documentaries "Cutie and the Boxer", which won best director for Zachary Heinzerling at Saturday's Sundance Film Festival Awards, and "Inequality for All".

The company also snapped up drama films "Concussion", which follows the mid-life crisis of a wealthy lesbian, and "Lovelace", based on the life of "Deep Throat" porn star Linda Lovelace.

Quinn said he and his fellow executives, including Harvey Weinstein, bought the film in the lobby of the theater after the film premiered on Tuesday. "Lovelace" sold for slightly more than $3 million.

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