2ND UPDATE: IFC has finally confirmed this deal. Here’s the release, at the bottom of Deadline’s break on the deal.
UPDATE, 3:35 AM: It was easier for Deadline to splash an exclusive about the Ain’t Them Bodies Saints deal last night than it was for Sundance dealmakers to paper it. But Cassian Elwes and WME Global’s Graham Taylor and Alexis Garcia finally closed with IFC Films‘ Arianna Bocco at 3 AM Los Angeles time, for a bit more than $1 million for U.S. rights. That means the reps will hold a mini-auction for Canadian rights — after they take a nap. I heard this morning from Elwes, who said Saints will benefit from a multi-platform strategy that the dealmaker/producer road-tested with Margin Call, and which he feels is a major reason the indie market is reinvigorated.
On this deal, Elwes had his original flight canceled and had to take another back to L.A. They negotiated until he had to shut off his cell phone, and then continued when he landed. Plane rides factored into the festival more than once, as Wednesday (at 3:36 AM West Coast time), WME Global closed a deal with eOne for the cannibal tale We Are What We Are. I’d heard that the agents were on the same flight with the eOne team, and they were going back and forth — and getting testy at times but not enough where they had to be duct-taped to their seats — on the way back to LA from Park City. By the time they landed, they were all smiling, and probably papered the deal with a Delta cocktail napkin for a platform theatrical release. When I asked Elwes why, like vampires, Sundance sellers and buyers only seem to get anything done between nightfall and dawn, he said: “Unfortunately, you watch the movies during the day and the only time to make a deal is when most people are asleep.” A few more deals and then these agents and buyers all deserve a long winter’s nap when this festival ends, as do the insomniac journalists who stalk them into the wee hours.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, January 24, 11:39 PM: After a protracted auction involving numerous distributors, IFC is near the home stretch to acquire North American rights to Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, the David Lowery-directed drama that stars Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker and Keith Carradine. The film premiered Sunday in the U.S. Dramatic Competition category at the Eccles Theatre.
Deal is low seven-figures and Sony Pictures Classics, Roadside Attractions Bob Berney’s revived Picturehouse and Magnolia were in the mix in an auction held by Cassian Elwes and WME Global’s Alexis Garcia. The film is the tale of an outlaw (Affleck) who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife (Mara) and the daughter he has never met. The film received strong reviews and buyer buzz, and has established Lowery as a helmer to watch.
This marks the second deal of the day for WME Global, which is also closing a sale of S-VHS to Magnolia Pictures. The agency has had a heckuva festival, also brokering Fruitvale in a $2 million + deal to The Weinstein Company; a whopping $10 million deal with Fox Searchlight for The Way, Way Back (brokered with CAA); Don Jon’s Addiction, which went for $4 million with a whopping $25 million P&A commitment to Relativity Media (with CAA); Inequality For All, which went to Radius-TWC; and We Are What We Are, the cannibal tale that played Park City At Midnight and sold to eOne. Still to go for the agency is A.C.O.D., which premiered Wednesday night, Big Sur and Blood Brothers.
IFC Films announced today from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival that the company is acquiring U.S. rights to writer-director DavidLowery’s second feature AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, which premiered on January 20 at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The film, with a screenplay by Lowery, stars Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker and Keith Carrradine, and was produced by Sailor Bear’s Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston, Parts & Labor’s Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen, Primary Productions’ Amy Kaufman and Cassian Elwes. The film was executive produced by Evolution Entertainment’s Mark Burg and Michael Menchel, Paradox’s Fredrik Malmberg and Daniel Wagner, and Lagniappe’s Jesse Kennedy and Logan Levy.
Set against the backdrop of 1970’s Texas Hill Country, AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS is a romantic American story that follows three characters on various sides of the law — outlaw Bob Muldoon (Affleck), his wife Ruth Guthrie (Mara), and a local sheriff named Patrick Wheeler (Foster), who gets caught in their crosshairs.
Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, said: “Coming into Sundance, this was one of the biggest titles on our list and probably on many buyers lists, and so we areecstatic about this acquisition for our company. This is a beautiful and exquisitely crafted romantic American drama, with superlative performances across the board. We are honored to now be able to say we get to workwith David Lowery, a remarkable new voice in filmmaking, as we take this film to audiences.”
“We put our all into making AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS and bringing it to Sundance, and our hope was that it would find a home with a distributor who’s passion for the film would match our own. The good folks at IFC Films demonstrated to us that, not only do they share that fervor, but that they’re ready to roll up their sleeves and get some dirt under their fingernails as they work with us to bring this picture to the big screen,” said Lowery. “I can’t wait.”
Lowery is a filmmaker from Texas. His first feature ST. NICK (2009) and his short-film PIONEER (2011) have screened at festivals around the world. In addition to his second feature AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS premiering at Sundance this week, he also co-wrote Yen Tan’s film PIT STOP, and edited the Shane Carruth-directed film UPSTREAM COLOR, both which premiered at Sundance this week as well.
The deal for the film was negotiated by Arianna Bocco, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions & Productions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films with Elwes and WME Global on behalf of the filmmakers.
IFC Films is a sister label to IFC Midnight and Sundance Selects, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.
This is the second acquisition for IFC Films at the festival on the heels of securing rights to Michael Winterbottom’s Steve Coogan starrer-THE LOOK OF LOVE. IFC Films’ sister label Sundance Selects acquired rights two docs in competition at the festival — Nick Ryan’s THE SUMMIT and Richard Rowley’s DIRTY WARS.
Parts & Labor producers’ Van Hoy and Kundsen previously worked with the IFC team on Aaron Katz’s COLD WEATHER, which they produced. Their company also has produced Mike Mills’ BEGINNERS, (for which Christopher Plummer won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor); Ira Sachs’ KEEP THE LIGHTS ON and Julia Lotkev’s THE LONELIEST PLANET. They also have two other films premiering in competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival — photojournalist Shaul Schwarz’s documentary NARCO CULTURA; and Andrew Dosunmu’s second feature MOTHER OF GEORGE.
Sailor Bear’s producing duo of Halbrooks and Johnston also were recipients of the 2013 Indian Paintbrush Producers Award, given out at the festival this week.