Sundance: Baghead and Wackness Bought by Sony Pictures Classics
by Alex Billington
January 26, 2008
Two more Sundance acquisitions have been confirmed, and they're both two of my favorite films from the fest. The lil' low budget comedy horror movie from the Duplass Brothers titled Baghead was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for under $1 million. And one of the most highly praised films of the fest, The Wackness, was finally also picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for a reported sale in the low seven figures. What a glorious time at Sundance - two new purchases means two great films on their way to theaters for all of you to see!
Baghead (read my review) is the Duplass Brother's second feature film, the first being The Puffy Chair which premiered at Sundance in 2005. It was reported that IFC, Netflix, Picturehouse, and Samuel Goldwyn were also interested in the film, but it ended up in the hands Sony Pictures Classics. Although an exact figure hasn't been confirmed, the sale was reported to be in the mid to high six figures.
The Wackness (read my review) is the 1994-based comedy about a drug-dealing teen written and directed by Jonathan Levine. Although the film premiered on the second day of the fest, Friday last weekend, it didn't officially sell until this weekend. No details have been officially released, but it's expected to be a big sale considering the buzz on the film. Very early reports are saying that the sale amount was in the low seven figures, and I'm guessing that means well under $5 million.
This is great news, in one way, because it now means everyone else can finally see both The Wackness and Baghead. If you haven't already been following the reviews for the films and hearing about the buzz, then now is the time to get interested. These two are going to be fairly big hits and you won't want to miss them. I'm not sure at what point they're planning to release either, but we'll certainly be the first to tell you.
Now the bad news is that Sony Pictures Classics isn't the greatest movie studio to sell to. Fox Searchlight is my preference, as they're the ones who have put out everything from Sideways to Thank You For Smoking to Napoleon Dynamite to Waitress to Once to Juno. It's not only the quality of their movies, but also the fact that these guys know exactly how to market a film and make it big. Sony Pictures Classics really needs to learn from Fox Searchlight if they're going to market The Wackness and Baghead correctly, and I wish them the best of luck, because both of these need to be huge hits!
Update: Our friends over at Film School Rejects and SlashFilm both have very negative reactions to this announcement for The Wackness as well. Neil from FSR points out that out of every movie at Sony Pictures Classics in the last two years "have not made over $15 million in their entire theatrical release." And Peter from /Film points out that "the nine films which were released theatrically last year by Sony Pictures Classics made a grand total of $6.5 million." This really doesn't sound too good.
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