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Sunday, January 30, 2005


The myth goes that if your film is accepted at Sundance than you've arrived. In one sense, nothing could be further from the truth. Yet, Sundance could be a vehicle, one of many, a filmmaker can ride to get their film seen, meet potential future creative partners, and if you are part of a tiny percentage of filmmakers, make a sale for distribution. The oft cited bid wars, reported at Sundance only occur for a small number of films in and out of the competition.

On average the sale of films going into and during Sundance are from a completely different list than those that win the jury and audience awards. Many of the most outstanding films at Sundance never go into distribution. Dramatic films with a commercial genre appeal or using A-list actors compete in a realm of their own in the minds of distributors. Documentaries with special intrigue, either because of sensational or tantilizing subject matter or whose personalities transcend content (pop celebrities or music personalities), raise to a different standard than those used for awards of artistic merit.

Also, it is important to note, many films arrange for sale heading into their January premiere at Sundance and are all but announced prior to those legend sessions at the River Horse Cafe or the famed appearances in the lobby of the Eccles Theater in Park City.

Here is a list (partial to date) of films that made sales at 2005 Sundance Film Festival.


"Hustle & Flow" [Comedy] $16 million -- Paramount Pictures
"The Matador" [Crime Thriller] $7.5 million -- Miramax
"Wolf Creek" [Horror] $3 million -- Miramax**
"Hard Candy" [Psycho-Thriller] $2 million -- Lions Gate **
"Brick" [Dark-Drama] $2 million -- Focus Features
"On a Clear Day" [Drama] $1.5 million -- Focus Features (Universal)
"Rize" [Documentary] $500 thousand -- Lions Gate **
"The Emperor's Journey" [Documentary] $1 million -- Warner Independent Pictures
"Strangers With Candy" [Comedy] Unknown -- Warner Independent Pictures
"The Aristocrats" [Comedy Documentary] Unknown -- ThinkFilm
"Ring of Fire" [Drama] Unknown -- USA Networks
"Pretty Persuasion" [Drama] Unknown -- Samuel Goldwyn Films

"The Squid and the Whale" [Drama] still up for sale 1/29/05 but attracting a lot of interest

** Numbers reported in print have varied depending on source for these films.


"Tony Takitani" [World Drama] Strand Releasing (North American Rights)
"Murderball" [Documentary] Unknown -- ThinkFilm

Slamdance, an alternative film festival that attached itself to the host Sundance, has become almost more exclusive and selective than the mothership, albeit, more quirky in its roaster.


"Mad Hot Ballroom" [Documentary] 2.7 million -- Paramount Classics -- bought from Slamdance not Sundance
"Ill Fated" [Tragic-Comic adventure] ThinkFilm (note: this film did not debut at Slamdance and had been seen at Toronto and Whistler)

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