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Sundance: Fox Searchlight Grabs ‘The Way, Way Back’ For Huge Price Tag; Radius-TWC Gets A ‘Concussion’

Written by on January 22, 2013 

The business wheels are officially churning over at the Sundance Film Festival. Yesterday brought announcements of a handful of major acquisitions, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s directorial debut Don Jon’s Addiction (picked up by Relativity Media), the reportedly strong Michael B. Jordan-starring drama Fruitvale (The Weinstein Company), and James Ponsdolt‘s Smashed follow-up The Spectacular Now (A24).

Today brings two more major deals, both reported by Deadline, and the first one has such a colossal price-tag that it’s threatening to flirt with some Sundance records. For “just under $10 million,” Fox Searchlight has bought the rights to The Way, Way Back, the directorial debut of The Descendants co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Everything I’ve heard about the film so far makes it sound like a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and Fox Searchlight clearly had to expand their wings in order to steal the film away from the other bidders, which included Lionsgate, FilmDistrict, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros.

“The coming-of-age story of a 14-year old introvert who spends a summer forming unlikely friendships with the prickly manager and the misfit workers at a run down water park,” The Way, Way Back certainly reads as if it has the goods to send audiences home smiling, and it’s got quite a cast to top things off: Steve Carell, Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell (who’s said to be a scene-stealer, as usual), and Maya Rudolph are among the biggest names. There’s no word yet on release-date possibilities, probably because Fox Searchlight wants to let their money cool off for a few hours, though I imagine we may hear something of the sort in the near future.

The second purchase of the day is more in line, financially, with what came yesterday — in other words, the price-tag “is a low 7-figure deal.” The purchaser is Radius-TWC, a branch-label within The Weinstein Company, and the film is Concussion, “a drama about a fortysomething wealthy, married, lesbian housewife who gets beaned by a baseball and strangely reflects on a life that she realizes is wanting and leads her to lead a secret life on the side.” IFC Films (who picked up Michael Winterbottom‘s The Look of Love yesterday) and Magnolia Pictures were among those who also sought the film, which is the debut of writer-director Stacie Passon.

Do you think Searchlight’s enormous investment will pay off? What are your early thoughts on Concussion?

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