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The Words has sold to CBS Films after a heated bidding war that lasted until 4 a.m. on Sunday. The project from directors and screenwriters Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal was sold for for about $2 million with a $1.5 million P&A commitment.
Interest in the Bradley Cooper-starring literary thriller was strong after it was shown at a packed P&I screening on Saturday morning. A tentative fall release is planned.
The Words centers on a hot young author (played by Cooper) who plagiarizes from a forgotten manuscript; the film also features Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldana and Ben Barnes.
A source said that the field of bidders was winnowed down quickly after the team behind the film decided it wanted a traditional theatrical release rather than a day-and-date VOD release. Ultimately, the decision to go with CBS came down to “commitment in the awards season” and the back-end deal.
CBS also made a big pickup, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
Words is the first major sale of Sundance. Rights to two documentaries sold on Friday: The Queen of Versailles, which chronicles a couple who built America’s largest home but got caught up in the housing crash, went to Magnolia; and Searching for Sugar Man, about South African fans of an elusive rock star and their quest to find out what happened to him, went to Sony Pictures Classics. Both those deals were in the mid-six figures range.
Words was executive produced by Laura Rister, Cassian Elwes, Lisa Wilson and Cooper. Michael Benaroya, Tatiana Kelly and Jim Young produced. The film is screening in Sundance’s Premieres section.
Elwes, Rister and CAA repped the film in the sale. Parlay is handling foreign sales.
Email: Daniel.Miller@THR.com; Jay.Fernandez@THR.com
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Red Sea Film Festival