The first big sale at Sundance went down in an all-night bidding session, and the one walking away with Like Crazy, the festival’s hottest movie, is an unusual player on the indie scene: Paramount Pictures.
At the studio’s celebration of its new Insurge Picture label (held just off Park City’s Main Street Saturday night), a horde of ski-jacketed would-be party-people crammed the lobby outside a roiling, thumping venue. While revelers pushed to the front of the line, the studio was across town trying to do the same for director Drake Doremus’ heartbreaking long-distance love story about a young couple trying to stay together despite circumstances keeping them half-way around the world from each other. Paramount chief Adam Goodman emerged from the bash with a cat-wh0-ate-the-canary smile, having heard praise about the movie all night from those who caught its Saturday afternoon premiere. He had just made an offer. By dawn, his company had sealed the deal.
Sources close to the sale tell EW exclusively that the movie sold for $4 million — a solid number for a Sundance pick-up. With a major studio backing it, this tiny romantic-drama starring Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the recent Star Trek reboot) and Felicity Jones (who costarred in the remake of The Tempest) will likely have the support it needs to connect beyond the art-house. How audiences ultimately respond is still uncertain, but if the viewers who have seen its single public showing are any indication, there’s potential to make the mainstream swoon just as hard as the story’s young lovers.
Doremus was at Sundance last year with the brotherly road-trip comedy Douchebag, and though critics have noted how different that raunchy fraternal warfare movie is, Like Crazy tapped Douchebag‘s star, Ben York Jones (who cowrote with Doremus), and producer Jonathan Schwartz (who helped shepherd the romance along with fellow producer Andrea Sperling.)
Sometimes at Sundance, the breakthrough doesn’t happen the first time. And then, suddenly success strikes, well … like crazy.