UPDATE, 8:50 AM: Fox Searchlight today officially announced what I scooped yesterday — that it has made a deal for the John Crowley-directed Brooklyn, its second big buy at the Sundance Film Festival after its team-up with Indian Paintbrush on Me And Earl And The Dying Girl. The studio says it plans a 2015 release for the Irish tale Brooklyn, written by Nick Hornby based on Colm Toibin’s novel. See the full release below the original story.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, TUESDAY PM: Two nights ago, Fox Searchlight was in the middle of an auction for Me And Earl And The Dying Girl that had reached a record $12 million — until FSL instead made a different deal with lower upfront and more upside in success. Now, Searchlight is closing up another deal that is one of the biggest for Sundance, paying $9 million for rights to Brooklyn, the John Crowley-directed period drama that stars Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent. Deal is for world rights, minus the UK, Canada and Oz.
Scripted by Nick Hornby, the film takes place in 1950s Ireland where a young woman uproots and heads to Brooklyn, trying to forge a new life and finding work and first love. Family tragedy brings her back to Ireland, where she is forced to confront a terrible dilemma. She must make a heartbreaking choice between two men and two countries. CAA brokered the deal with foreign sales agent Hanway. The film bowed in the Premieres section on Monday at the Eccles Theatre. This was one of the titles that buyers were most sparked about. Crowley is a fine director of UK-themed films, whose past efforts include Boy A and Intermission.
This one had everyone from The Weinstein Company to Focus Features and CBS Films chasing it, but Searchlight prevailed in the end. This is a whopper of a deal, and it stacks up favorably or even exceeds past precedent setters like The Spitfire Grill, Little Miss Sunshine, The Way Way Back and Hamlet 2, when you factor in the territories in the deal.
While they are understated about their business, Fox Searchlight’s Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley leave the slopes with two of the most coveted acquisition titles. It’s not surprising they came here swinging for the fences; after winning the Best Picture Oscar last year for 12 Years A Slave, this year they’ve got The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is about to cross $180 million worldwide and is selling briskly on DVD with nine Oscar nominations including Best Picture.
The FSL release:
PARK CITY, UT January 28, 2015 – Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley announced today that the company has acquired U.S. rights as well as multiple international territories to the romantic drama BROOKLYN, starring Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters. The film is directed by John Crowley and written by Nick Hornby, based on Colm Toibin’s acclaimed novel. The film is produced by Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey and is scheduled to be released in 2015.
“We were overwhelmed by this epic film – the impeccable direction, the flawless attention to detail and Saoirse’s heartbreaking performance of Eilis’ emotional journey. This film is the kind of classic love story that audiences yearn for and is so often missing from today’s world,” said Utley and Gilula.
“We could not be more thrilled to have Searchlight as the home for Brooklyn. They are as passionate about the film as we, John and Nick are and their pedigree is a perfect fit,” said producers Dwyer and Posey.
BROOKLYN tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
The deal was brokered by Fox Searchlight’s Senior Vice President of Acquisitions & Co-Productions Ray Strache, Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Megan O’Brien and Executive Vice President of Worldwide Acquisitions Tony Safford, and Thorsten Schumacher and Chiara Gelardin from HanWay Films and CAA, who represented the film.