EXCLUSIVE: In another big Sundance deal, Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment paid upward of $2.5 million for North American rights to Indignation, the directorial debut of former Focus Features head James Schamus. The film, which Schamus adapted from a novel by Philip Roth, premiered Sunday night at Eccles. It received a warm reaction and strong reviews as the bargaining got underway immediately. The deal closed about three hours after the premiere concluded. CAA brokered the deal.
The film stars Logan Lerman as a young Jewish student from New Jersey who works in his father’s kosher butcher shop and escapes his overprotective father and their sheltered family life by heading off to a small Ohio college on scholarship at a time when the Korean War is taking young men in the neighborhood and academia is the best way to avoid being drafted. His life takes a turn when he meets a beguiling but troubled young woman (Sarah Gadon) and an intrusive dean (Tracy Letts). The latter imposes the suffocating morality of the period, the sexual repression and even the feeling of anti-Semitism on campus. A long scene in the dean’s office between Lerman and Letts brought down the house during the screening.
Schamus, who co-wrote such films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Ice Storm and produced Brokeback Mountain and has collaborated as an exec with filmmakers that include the Coen brothers, Edgar Wright and Ang Lee, clearly was paying attention. His debut outing shows poise and confidence in telling a tragic coming-of-age story.
Anthony Bregman, Schamus and Rodrigo Teixeira produced Indignation. FilmNation is selling foreign rights.