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JAN
25
4 YEARS

SUNDANCE: Sony Pictures Classics Snatches 'The Guard' for About $1 Million

Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, the world cinema dramatic competition dark comedy stars Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

“The Guard”
Jonathan Hession

PARK CITY -- Sony Pictures Classics has nailed down a deal to take domestic and Latin American rights to The Guard, a dark comedy that screened opening night at the 2011 Sundance fest. The purchase price landed close to $1 million, plus back-end bumps, according to several sources.

Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, The Guard stars Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle in the story of an Irish village police sergeant reluctantly pulled into an FBI agent’s investigation of an international drug-smuggling ring that has hit Ireland’s shores. Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot, Rory Keenan, Mark Strong, Fionnula Flanagan, Dominique McElligott, Sarah Greene, Katarina Cas, Pat Shortt and Darren Healy co-star.

Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez Marengo, Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe produced the film. McDonagh, Cheadle, Lenore Zerman, Tim Smith, Paul Brett, Ralph Kamp and David Nash served as executive producers.

The world cinema dramatic competition film played to positive response during its world premiere screening at the Egyptian Theatre Thursday. Over the following days, Roadside Attractions and Magnolia Pictures also took runs at the acquisition.

Rena Ronson and David Flynn of UTA, which has sold five features in three days, repped the sale for the filmmakers along with Metropolis Film Sales.

Just before the festival opened, SPC purchased North American rights to Jeff Nichols’ dramatic competition film Take Shelter, and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group grabbed U.S. and Canadian rights to Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold for SPC to release in April.

Tuesday morning, SPC drew seven Oscar nominations, including two best foreign language film nominees (In a Better World and Incendies), a best animated feature nom (The Illusionist) and a best documentary feature nom (Inside Job).

SPC’s pick up of The Guard capped a flood of deals for rights to Sundance program films over the previous 24 hours. IFC Films grabbed domestic rights to the thriller The Ledge for over $1 million; IFC’s sister division Sundance Selects bought the documentary Buck; National Geographic Films purchased U.S. rights to Life in a Day, the user-generated documentary experiment that YouTube will release simultaneously online; Fox Searchlight nabbed the dark competition drama Martha Marcy May Marlene for about $2 million; Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media partnered to pick up the New York Times documentary Page One; Liddell Entertainment snatched up domestic and most worldwide rights to the horror film Silent House for $3 million; and HBO grabbed remake rights to the Irish bare-knuckle boxing documentary KNUCKLE to adapt into a TV series.