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SUNDANCE: The Weinstein Co. Takes in 'My Idiot Brother'

Paul Rudd, Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel and Elizabeth Banks star in the family comedy, which had its world premiere Saturday night at the Eccles theatre.

“My Idiot Brother”
Courtesy of Big Beach Films

Harvey Weinstein has taken in the Idiot in the family.

The Weinstein Co., which has been active in several heated bidding situations over the past few days, has grabbed domestic rights to the Jesse Peretz-directed comedy My Idiot Brother. The film played to an eager Eccles Theatre audience Saturday night in its worldwide debut. In the 12 hours following, UTA agents repping the film juggled multiple offers throughout the night before closing the deal with TWC on Sunday morning. Ron Burkle has partnered with TWC on the acquisition, which also includes rights to the U.K., Germany, France and Japan.

Paul Rudd, Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, Steve Coogan, Hugh Dancy and Elizabeth Banks star in the story of a dim, laidback but sweet biodynamic farmer who gets into some pot-related trouble and then inadvertently wrecks the lives of his three sisters after staying with each for a few weeks. The crowd Saturday received the fairly conventional comedy with warmth, and a bizarre Q&A following the screening added to the loopiness of the atmosphere as cast members and producers onstage had fun with strange audience questioners.

After brainstorming the idea together, Peretz passed off screenplay duties on Brother to his sister Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall. Anthony Bregman of Likely Story (Please Give) and Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf of Big Beach Films (Jack Goes Boating) produced the film. Big Beach also financed. Executive producers include Peretz, Caroline Jaczko, Stefanie Azpiazu, John Hodges and Aleen Keshishian.

UTA's Rena Ronson and Jim Meenaghan brokered the deal for the filmmakers along with Jackie Eckhouse of Sloss Eckhouse Lawco, which reps Big Beach. Ashok Amritraj's Hyde Park International is handling foreign sales on Brother.

The Weinstein Co. collected 2010 Sundance titles The Tillman Story, The Company Men and Blue Valentine last year. Execs from the company made a serious pitch for another 2011 Saturday premiere, Like Crazy, which ultimately landed with Paramount and Indian Paintbrush in the early Sunday morning hours.

My Idiot Brother joins Like Crazy and Margin Call, which went to Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate, as early festival acquisitions. Pre-fest, Roadside Attractions grabbed The Music Never Stopped, Sony Pictures Classics purchased Take Shelter, HBO nabbed the James Marsh documentary Project Nim and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group picked up Morgan Spurlock’s documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold for SPC to release.

Sundance entries The Ledge, Martha Marcy May Marlene and The Guard are still very much in play.