UPDATE: Just got an update on Austenland. The deal is north of $4 million, midway between $4 million and $5 million, and Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in the summer, and they will rely heavily on producer (and Twilight Saga author) Stephenie Meyer, Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale, along with star Keri Russell to promote it and make this a chick flick extravaganza.
EARLIER, BREAKING: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has closed on the Keri Russell-starrer Austenland. It’s a surprising outcome, and the deal numbers I’m hearing are north of $4 million for worldwide rights. Sony Pictures Classics will release in the U.S. The Jerusha Hess-directed film about a Jane Austen fanatic is produced by Twilight Saga‘s Stephenie Meyer.
This has been an interesting negotiation. It took until today, because both Stephenie Meyer and Jerusha Hess couldn’t work Sunday because of their Mormon faith. This morning, they finally had a meeting with SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard , and things finally started to move when SPWA made the highest bid, above others in the $3 million range. Those others in the mix were FilmDistrict, teamed with Exclusive Media in one bid that fell through earlier today and Fox Searchlight was also in there before they dropped out when SPWA made the jumbo bid. Filmmakers love Jane Austen but not all of the various adaptations of her work have scored. SPC previously released The Jane Austen Book Club, which grossed $3.57 million, and grossed $7 million worldwide, and SPC had worldwide rights. A $4.5 million minimum guarantee and theatrical commitment means this has to do better than that, but the deal is for world and so it is hardly outlandish. SPC also did fine on the Austen pic Persuasion, which grossed $5.3 million domestic and SPC had it in multiple territories.
UTA repped the deal. I’ve never heard of one of these that got extended because the principals were Mormon and simply couldn’t get involved yesterday, but that sounds charming for a sale brokered in Utah, even if it probably drove UTA’s Rena Ronson to distraction.