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SUNDANCE: Why Paramount Paid $4 Million for 'Like Crazy'

Drake Doremus' heartfelt romantic drama sold just 16 hours after its Saturday premiere.

“Like Crazy” (Drake Doremus, director)
Courtesy of Crispy Films

Paramount inaugurated Sundance fest dealing with purchase of Drake Doremus' Like Crazy in the early hours of Sunday morning. The company, which had execs Adam Goodman and Matt Brodlie in Park City to see the film, paid $4 million for worldwide rights, according to sources. READ: Like Crazy review

Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence star in the mostly improvised romantic drama about two students who fall deeply in love only to be separated because of a visa violation (she's from England). Their struggle to maintain a connection while embracing other relationships and then each other repeatedly sustain the drama of the film. Doremus and his Douchebag collaborator Ben York Jones wrote the script.

It played very well to a full house at the Eccles Theatre Saturday afternoon, with a slew of major acquisitions execs in the room. Buyer interest was sparked immediately.

The all-night negotiation involved several potential buyers, including Summit Entertainment and the Weinstein Co. (Harvey Weinstein visited the filmmakers' dinner on Friday night to say hello), but Paramount ultimately sealed the deal with its strong bid and a yet-to-be-finalized P&A commitment. The company, which hasn't played much of a part in festival acquisitions since its Paramount Vantage division was sidelined several years ago, likely sees the appeal in the youthful cast and the realistic portrayal of young love. It must have expressed interest to the producers and agents pre-fest, as Paramount execs in Los Angeles were given a screening of the film simultaneous to its Park City premiere.

(Vantage still operates as a label, with David Chase's untitled coming-of-age drama and the Duplass Brothers' Jeff Who Lives at Home both in development there; the label also distributed Davis Guggenheim's Sundance documentary Waiting for "Superman" last year.)

The studio also has a relationship with Yelchin, who plays Chekov in Paramount's Star Trek franchise. The untitled sequel will be released in the summer of 2012. With rising stars such as Yelchin and Lawrence, who is gaining stature from her award-worthy Winter's Bone role, the studio is clearly banking on their growing profiles and appeal in the young demo. Relative newcomer Jones is also a standout. READ: Q&A with Anton Yelchin

Like Crazy was produced by Jonathan Schwartz and Andrea Sperling of Super Crispy Entertainment. Executive producers are Audrey and Zygi Wilf.