Last night while beating a hasty exit on a red eye flight to get back to New York before the blizzard, I broke news that Fox Searchlight was the lead bidder in a multi-party auction for Me And Earl And The Dying Girl that had two bids at a Sundance record setting $12 million minimum guarantee for worldwide rights. That would have bested several pics that sold for $10 million, including Little Miss Sunshine and Hamlet 2, Spitfire Grill and The Way Way Back. By the time I got off the plane, FSL had closed a deal. But it isn’t the upfront record it could have been. The final deal can potentially be more lucrative. It is difficult to get exact parameters. Outsiders peg the upfront value more in line with the numbers being paid for a lot of these films, which is mid-seven figures, and they said that Searchlight and Indian Paintbrush principals got together directly and opted to bypass the process to make a different deal than the one that was possible because of the WME-run auction. That doesn’t mean this isn’t an exceptional deal; basically Indian Paintbrush and Fox Searchlight are more partners and co-financiers than anything. The deal that Steven Rales’ company took involves a lower than usual distribution fee and higher than average position on video on a global level. If the film turns in an outsized gross performance, the financier stands to make a lot more than $12 million. I believe the filmmakers could have had the record; they instead took the long play.
Indian Paintbrush and FSL are coming off a triumph together in the Wes Anderson-directed The Grand Budapest Hotel, and they previously teamed on The Darjeeling Limited and Stoker, so there is a good working relationship there. In the case of The Grand Budapest Hotel, that film grossed nearly $60 million domestic and $175 million globally. It is now on video, helped by its Best Picture nomination. If Me And Earl And The Dying Girl did anything resembling this kind of business, Indian Paintbrush would make a fortune by not taking the record upfront but instead getting paid by performance. Will tell you more if I can get any more clarity.