Searchlight gets hands on 'Choke'


Complete Sundance coverage

UPDATED 10:10 a.m. PT Tuesday, Jan. 22

PARK CITY -- In a deal recalling the Sundance gold rush of '07, Fox Searchlight picked up North American and most worldwide territory rights to Clark Gregg's black comedy "Choke" for $5 million.

Actor-director Gregg's feature debut, which he adapted from "Fight Club" author Chuck Palahniuk's novel, follows a sex addict (Sam Rockwell) who fakes choking in expensive restaurants to worm his way into the lives of their rich patrons. When his insane mother (Anjelica Huston) reveals the shocking truth about his father's identity, he enlists friends to seek out the full story before his mother loses her mind completely.

This isn't the synopsis of an obvious hit film, but "Choke" played like gangbusters Monday night at the Racquet Club to an audience of buyers ravenous for quality narrative films after many received mixed reactions.

Searchlight and several other specialty divisions approached the sellers UTA, attorney Andrew Hurwitz and Wild Bunch immediately after the screening, but soon the Fox division had the inside track.

The deal, which includes most worldwide territories except Iceland, Romania, Turkey, Portugal, Baltic States and Scandanavia, closed after 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.