CATEGORIES Deals, Sundance, Distribution, Cinematical Indie, Movie News, Sundance Film Festival, CinematicalFor many people, Sundance can be defined as edgy, difficult, dysfunctional, and dramatic. But for distributors looking for films they can sell in a tight marketplace for specialty fare, Sundance evidently now means "lighter, funnier."
In the third big Sundance deal of the day -- all involving comedies, to one degree or another -- Focus Features has acquired Hamlet 2, according to Lou Lumenick of New York Post. (And confirmed a few minutes later by Anne Thompson of Variety). The film stars Steve Coogan as an "ex-actor, ex-user, relentless dreamer, and sometimes-delusional high school teacher" who stages his own unusual adaptations (e.g. Erin Brockovich). Facing budget cuts and student rebellion, he decides to go for broke and mount his most ambitious production: his self-penned sequel to Hamlet.
Anne Thompson fleshed out the story with the purchase price ($10 million) and the specific rights (worldwide). She says the deal was closed "in the wee hours Tuesday morning ... after an intense bidding war." As she points out, the figure is quite high for Sundance, putting Hamlet 2 in the exclusive neighborhood previously occupied only by titles like Spitfire Grill (a bomb) and Little Miss Sunshine (a hit).
Monika gushed a few days ago about director Andrew Fleming's Threesome, which debuted at Sundance back in 1994, but his career since then has been mixed. Most recently, he made Nancy Drew and before that, the very flat remake The In-Laws. However, the concept for Hamlet 2 sounds funny, Steve Coogan can be a very funny actor, and other members of the cast (Catherine Keener, Amy Poehler, David Arquette) make me optimistic about the film's prospects.