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JAN
29
3 YEARS

Sundance 2012: Star-Studded 'Lay the Favorite' Sells to Weinstein Co. for $2 Million-Plus

The comedy from director Stephen Frears stars Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Lay The Favorite
Frank Masi

Lay the Favorite, a fact-based comedy about a private dancer who becomes a player in the world of high-stakes gambling, has sold to the Weinstein Co. A source pegs the deal at a little over $2 million.

The film, which receive a tepid response from critics at the festival (THR's Todd McCarthy said it is "just exhausting and, finally, off-putting"), was directed by Oscar-nominated Stephen Frears (The Queen) and stars Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson, Laura Prepon, Rebecca Hall and Vince Vaughn.

Favorite, which screened in Sundance's Premieres section, bowed last Saturday night at the Eccles Theatre. The deal was widely expected and has been in the works since the middle of the week. A combination VOD and theatrical release is planned.

The Weinsteins have been relatively quiet at Sundance so far. Favorite represents the company's first buy, leading some to speculate that TWC was burned by its big-ticket purchases last Sundance. In 2011, TWC and Ron Burkle partnered on the Paul Rudd comedy Our Idiot Brother for about $7 million, and the film grossed $24.8 million domestically after a big marketing spend. Its other big purchase, the Tobey Maguire dark comedy The Details, was bought for about $7.5 million plus a $10 million P&A commitment. That film has yet to be released.    

TWC also has a fairly packed release schedule for 2012, which also could explain the lack of purchases at this year's Sundance.

CAA represented the filmmakers in the sale.

Email: Matthew.Belloni@THR.com

Twitter: @THRMattBelloni