Sundance 2010: 'The Kids Are All Right' becomes a Sundance sensation
A high-stakes acquisitions drama played out at the Sundance Film Festival on Monday night, as distributors jockeyed for rights to the emerging phenomenon "The Kids Are All Right," a dramatic comedy from veteran filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko.
Focus Features and Summit Entertainment were two of the companies decidedly in the mix late Monday as executives from Cinetic Media, which is representing rights to the film, negotiated with interested studios during the after-midnight hours in Park City.
Both companies were sharply enthusiastic about the movie and were laying out their intended release plans -- as well as the advance, likely in the solid seven figures, they'd pay for rights to acquire and distribute the picture.
Several other companies also circled the film, with the race still considered relatively open just before 2 a.m. this morning.
Several hours earlier, Cholodenko's film played to a crowded and giddy audience at the Library, the site of several high-profile acquisitions at Sundance over the years.
Cholodenko's movie, a late addition to the festival, centers on the drama that ensues after two children of a lesbian couple seek out their birth father. Supporters of the movie -- and there are many -- say it can sustain both an awards campaign as well as a broad release to an audience that would be taken with the film's comedic and poignant moments. The movie, which played to a house packed with distribution execs (and whose screening evoked, in some ways, the response to "Little Miss Sunshine" four years ago -- giving rise to speculation that Fox Searchlight could wind up walking away with the film) features a number of established and emerging stars. The group includes veterans Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Annette Bening, along with up-and-comer Mia Wasikowska (the teenage star of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland").
The bidding continued a trend for Cinetic in Park City involving the festival's Monday night slot, when the company traditionally holds its party after one or several of its high-profile titles premieres to executives, as it did this evening.
Summit recently has been an aggressive player for available film titles, jumping into the fray at the last several festivals as it revels in the success of its "Twilight" franchise. Focus is regarded as a savvy distributor of art-house and other types of films, though the company has been somewhat gun shy at festivals since paying about $10 million for global rights to the under-performing Sundance comedy "Hamlet 2" two years ago.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska and Mark Ruffalo in "The Kids Are All Right." Credit: The Sundance Film Festival