'Sugar' plays ball with HBO Films


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HBO Films has boarded "Sugar," Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's follow-up to their 2006 indie hit "Half Nelson."

The production banner is financing the picture, which will have its world premiere in competition next month at the Sundance Film Festival, and also holds distribution rights.

HBO has yet to make a decision on whether to debut the movie on the network or in theaters via theatrical label Picturehouse.

Another HBO Films project, "Rocket Science," made its debut at Sundance in January before being released theatrically in the summer. It's possible that HBO will gauge the reaction to "Sugar" in Park City before deciding on the release platform.

"Sugar" is described as a fish-out-of-water story about immigration and baseball. The fictional tale follows Miguel "Sugar" Santos, a Dominican baseball prospect who is sent to play in a small Midwestern town after being scouted in his home country.

Fleck is directing the movie based on Boden's screenplay. The two also are teaming for "Special Topics in Calamity Physics," a Scott Rudin project about a high school girl and a secret society that has been set up at Miramax.

Paul Mezey's Journeyman Pictures and Jamie Patricof's Hunting Lane Films are producing "Sugar." The duo also produced "Half Nelson," the gritty story of a crack-addict teacher, which put Fleck and Boden on the map at Sundance in 2005 and earned star Ryan Gosling a best actor Oscar nomination.