Sundance Film Festival

Sundance ’12 acquisitions round-up #3: V/H/S, ARBITRAGE and more

With the clock winding down on Sundance ’12, the market for distribution titles is starting to look like a domino course. Once the first couple titles fell, they all started to fall. We’ve got a lot of news since our last roundup, so let’s get to it.

The latest domino to drop is V/H/S, the found footage horror anthology from a whole mess of directors including Adam Wingard (YOU’RE NEXT), Joe Swanberg (SILVER BULLETS), and Ti West (THE INNKEEPERS). According to The Hollywood Reporter, Magnolia Pictures picked the film (which is supposedly so intense that it made several audience members pass out) for approximately $1 million. Their plans for V/H/S are said to include a video-on-demand preview and then a theatrical release and then, I imagine, a kitschy release on VHS.

The Sundance screenings of RED LIGHTS were almost as horrific as V/H/S’, but sadly the terror wasn’t quite as intentional. But despite critical pans (“Fraudulent, tone-deaf and contrived,” said The Los Angeles Times and A.V. Club’s Sam Adams), Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson reports that Millenium Entertainment grabbed RED LIGHTS, with designs on a theatrical release in the near future. Directed by Rodrigo Cortés (BURIED), RED LIGHTS stars Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy and Elizabeth Olsen as a team of paranormal skeptics who square off against a world famous psychic, played by Robert De Niro. Even the couple of writers who enjoyed the film said that the ending was a huge disappointment; it will be interesting to see whether Millenium releases the version that played at Sundance or takes the criticism to heart and goes with a revised cut of the film.

Speeding through the RED LIGHTS news, Elizabeth Olsen also appears in another title that just got picked up for distribution: LIBERAL ARTS from How I Met Your Mother star and HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE director Josh Radnor. Radnor plays a man who returns to his alma mater for a professor’s retirement dinner, where he meets and falls for a college sophomore, played by Olsen, and no her character’s name doesn’t start with an ‘m,’ so you can get those jokes out of your head right now. The film, which also features Zac Efron, Allison Janney, and Richard Jenkins, has been received warmly in Park City — not always easy since it’s like twenty degrees below zero there most of the time — and is about to be acquired for theatrical distribution by IFC Films, according to a report in Variety.

Our final two titles went to tag teaming studios. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions joined forces to grab ARBITAGE, a drama and ticking clock thriller about a billionaire hedge fund manager (Richard Gere) in danger of losing his business. Sony and Samuel Goldwyn will jointly release ROBOT AND FRANK, a sci-fi film about a man and his robot caretaker. That one stars Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler, James Marsden, Peter Sarsgaard, and a robot (playing himself).

That’s it for the moment, but the market is far from empty. Both of the available titles we mentioned in our last round-up — BACHELORETTE and LAY THE FAVORITE — are still out there for the taking, along with several other noteworthy movies. Expect lots more dominos, and a fourth acquisitions round-up, in the near future.