In two other prominent deals, Fox Searchlight reportedly paid $5m for domestic and the majority of international territories on Choke, Clark Gregg's adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's dark comedy about sexual compulsion starring Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston, while Overture Films paid in the region of $3m for US rights to Mark Pellington's feelgood drama Henry Poole Is Here, which stars Luke Wilson.
At time of writing The Wackness, American Teen, Frozen River, Ballast, Sunshine Cleaning, Anvil, The Great Buck Howard and Bottle Shock were all in play, with Paramount Vantage closing in on American Teen after days of furious negotiation for the film.
The Hamlet 2 deal closed at approximately 6.30am here on Tuesday morning after the world premiere 13 hours earlier on Sunday evening had drawn a wildly enthusiastic response. Acquisition teams from Fox Searchlight, Summit, Lionsgate, Overture, Warner Independent Films, THINKFilm and Miramax were at the show and before the credits rolled it became clear from the constellation of Blackberry screens that this had become the first must-buy narrative film of the festival.
However it was Focus Features who emerged victorious from CAA's condo early on Tuesday morning. Jason Resnick, senior vice president of acquisitions for Focus Features and Universal, Focus president Andrew Karpen and executive vice president of business affairs Howard Meyers negotiated the deal with CAA's Micah Green, Dan Steinman and Dan Aloni and Keith Fleer of Loeb & Loeb.
Hamlet 2 stars UK comic Steve Coogan as a failed actor who inspires his high school drama students to act in his controversial and self-penned sequel to Hamlet. Catherine Keener, Melonie Diaz, Amy Poehler, David Arquette and Elisabeth Shue star. Fleming co-wrote the screenplay with Pam Brady.
L+E Pictures' Eric Eisner and Leonid Rozhetskin financed the film, which had been in turnaround from New Line, along with Aaron Ryder. Bona Fide partners Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa served as executive producers.
The deal caps a great day for Focus after Atonement earned seven Oscar nominations. In Bruges, which the company will release shortly, opened the festival on Jan 17.
Overture Films' acquisition of Henry Poole Is Here comes at a busy time for the company, which released its first film Mad Money in the top 10 last weekend and holds North American rights to Bill Maher's drama Sleepwalking, which gets its world premiere here today, as well as Toronto pick-up The Visitor, which screens later in the week.
Lakeshore Entertainment's Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi and Richard Wright produced Henry Poole Is Here with Gary Gilbert and Tom Lassally.
'We were moved by Mark Pellington's poignant film and Luke Wilson's memorable performance - these discoveries are why we come to Sundance,' Overture COO Danny Rosett said. It is understood Overture will try to slot the film into its 2008 release slate.
Lakeshore president of worldwide marketing and distribution David Dinerstein said: 'Chris and Danny experienced first-hand what an audience-pleaser this was and will know how to make sure it's marketed effectively.' Dinerstein added that the US sale was expected to boost international sales on the film at Berlin.
Searchlight negotiated Choke rights with UTA, attorney Andrew Hurwitz and Wild Bunch.
Meanwhile Documentary Competition entries Patti Smith: Dream Of Life, Nerakhoon (The Betrayal) and Traces Of The Trade will receive their national broadcast premieres on the P.O.V. documentary series on PBS, P.O.V.