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January 20, 2009

Sundance News: Magnolia Buys 'Humpday'

In a sign of the unusual times for indie cinema, Magnolia Pictures announced its acquisition of "Humpday," a comedy by director Lynn Shelton ("Diggers"), for its video-on-demand business first, with a theatrical release to follow. The on-demand release will come in the summer of 2009, and theatrical will follow a month later, the company said. The movie starring Joshua Leonard and Mark Duplass is a romance about heterosexual one-upmanship.
More sales: Fox Searchlight bought worldwide rights to ‘Adam,’ by new director Max Mayer. The romance stars Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne and Peter Gallagher.

"Black Dynamite," an homage to the blaxploitation films of the1970s, sold to Sony Worldwide Acquisitions for $2 million, IndieWIRE reported early Monday.
The film starring Michael Jai White, premiered on Sunday night, and a deal was struck in the early hours of Monday morning.
If the price quoted by the wire -- "high seven figures" -- is confirmed, then this year's Sundance is already on the way to a lively sales market, despite the doom-and-gloom predictions of an economic recession and a distribution crisis in the independent film world.
This is the second deal in which Sony has been involved. The trades reported that Sony Worldwide had partnered with Senator in an earlier deal for "Brooklyn's Finest."
“Brooklyn’s Finest,” a cop drama directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) was quickly snapped up on Saturday after a packed premiere at the Eccles Theatre. Senator Distribution paid under $5 million for North American rights, according to Mark Urman, the president of Senator. The film stars Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke, and follows the lives of three New York City cops battling the ethical and moral dilemmas on the job.
But that sum won’t go very far to cover the costs of the film, which had an estimated budget of $23-25 million. Gere has a pricey first dollar take on the pic, and the word on the street was that Miramax had an early deal to buy the film that the producers turned down.
Negotiations began immediately after the screening Friday evening, “as we were walking out the doors of the Eccles Theatre,” Urman said. “We were very, very aggressive and were ready to meet the requirements of whatever it takes to land a film like this. We went in with a plan of attack.”
Senator hopes to release the film during the fourth quarter so it will be up for awards consideration, possibly for Hawke’s performance, as the actor was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Fuqua’s “Training Day.” The soundtrack – which was entirely temporary due to the last-minute decision to bring the film to Sundance – will also have to be compiled. 


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