EXCLUSIVE: Fruitvale, the Ryan Coogler-directed drama about the last day in the life of 22-year-old Oscar Grant before he was killed in a case that galvanized protests against police brutality in Oakland, is at the center of a multi-distributor auction that will be wrapped up first thing Monday morning at Sundance. I’m hearing that the deal will be worth just north of a $2 million minimum guarantee with commitments for screen commitments and a theatrical release, with P&A. The suitors in the mix at this late hour are led by The Weinstein Company and Fox Searchlight, with Paramount Pictures and Focus Features in the mix.

The feeling from buyers I’ve spoken to who’ve seen it is that Fruitvale has the potential to be one of those festival pictures that come out of nowhere — like Precious and Beasts Of The Southern Wild — to capture audience and critical acclaim. It’s galvanized by the performance of Michael B Jordan, memorable in The Wire, Friday Night Lights and Chronicle. He plays Oscar, a young man who has been in trouble with the law but is decent at heart and tries to straighten out his life to care for his girlfriend and young daughter. The film unfolds on the final day of 2008 and also stars The Help‘s Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand and Chad Michael Murray. The film is Coogler’s feature directorial debut, and Forest Whitaker is among the producers. The auction is being handled tonight by WME Global’s Mark Ankner and Liesl Copland.

Stay tuned.

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