Moviegoers may dream of an aisle seat and a little extra leg room, but moviemakers … all they crave is precious, precious buzz. Here are the vertiginous trajectories of five films that gained and lost the prized chatter over the course of fickle Sundance’s 11 days.
— Daniel Fierman and Josh Wolk
DONNIE DARKO Rumors anoint Richard Kelly’s debut a hot property. Think that had anything to do with ”producer” Drew Barrymore?
[1/19] Harvey, Amir, and just about everyone else in the indie universe show at the first screening.
They actually see the film. Things get darko. Very darko.
[1/28] No distribution deal, but consensus emerges that Kelly has promise.
RAW DEAL: A QUESTION OF CONSENT Billy Corben’s doc about the alleged 1999 rape of exotic dancer Lisa Gier King in a Florida frat house.
[1/20] Curious to see the film, alleged rape victim Lisa Gier King is among those at the movie’s first screening. Despite graphic content, almost no one — including Gier King — walks out. (She declined to comment.)
[1/25] The New York Post puts Raw Deal on its cover, under the screaming headline RAPE, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE.
[1/26] Artisan picks up flick.
[1/27] Shut out at awards ceremony.
ENIGMA Kate Winslet’s $20 million code-cracker movie looks intriguing, but about as indie as Battlefield Earth.
[1/23] After premiere party, producer Mick Jagger leaves town. Takes buzz with him.
WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER A Meatballs satire with Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce at Sundance? What next, Naked Gun 4.4?
[1/23] Press roars at first screening, relieved to have respite from indie gloom.
[1/25] Thanks to press raves, outside the 5:30 p.m. screening there’s a color war of people battling for tickets.
[1/26] Moviegoers roust for packed 8:30 a.m. screening, even if most of cast can’t.
[1/28] On flights home, festivalgoers burst into random giggle fits remembering Wet Hot‘s Chris Meloni humping a fridge.
THE BELIEVER Life as a Jewish Nazi skinhead. Not your rabbi’s after-shul special.
[1/20] Expectations of American History X2 confounded after first showing.
[1/25] Following packed screening, lobby filled with bubbling praise for lead actor Ryan Gosling.
[1/27] Writer-director Henry Bean, who had left on Jan. 23, called back to accept Grand Jury Prize.