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JAN
22
4 YEARS

SUNDANCE: Saturday Morning, Buyers Buzzing, Offers In, Nothing Closed

"The Guard," "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "Margin Call" are all fielding serious interest by Day Three.

By the early morning hours Saturday, the snow was falling and audiences and indie players were looking forward to shaking off the early, excited jitters and settling into the first-weekend groove.

On the potential sales front, several UTA-repped films have serious interest from buyers, including The Guard, Margin Call and Martha Marcy May Marlene. But few movies strike as a slamdunk in the indie world, and interested buyers are noting that all three require nuanced strategic thinking to make them work in the marketplace.

The Guard, while funny and engaging, has a language barrier built into its Irish humor and strong accents. Margin Call has a name cast (Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Irons) and a timely topic, but its long, talky scenes and granular discussion of the mortgage crisis make it a hard sell to middle America. And Martha Marcy is a well-directed movie with a riveting central performance from Elizabeth Olsen that may have a hard time overriding its relentlessly dark storyline. Even still, all three have fielded concrete offers.

That no deals have closed this early in the fest is far from unusual, and typically suggests either that no one film has knocked everybody out or that buyers and sellers are waiting for the next round of higher-profile premieres to unspool before committing limited funds to anything. Both are likely at this point.

Among those Saturday unveilings are Like Crazy, a competition film about young, long-distance love from Douchebag director Drake Doremus. Harvey Weinstein stopped by a filmmaker dinner for the drama on Friday night, indicating strong anticipation from buyers who have yet to see the film, which stars Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence. Other hot Saturday premieres include My Idiot Brother, the Jesse Peretz-directed family comedy with Paul Rudd, Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel, and The Devil’s Double, another Premieres section entry from director Lee Tamahori that is sparking curiosity about star Dominic Cooper’s double turn as the nutty Uday Hussein and his body double.

Those films prompting less charitable buzz thus far include the Roadside Attractions pick-up The Music Never Stopped, Matthew Chapman’s dramatic competition thriller The Ledge, which unspooled Friday afternoon, and Braden King’s HERE, a Sundance Institute project.