In the second major acquisition at this year's Sundance, WarnerIndependent Pictures has paid $6m for North American and UK rights to Michel Gondry's surreal romance The Science Of Sleep.
WiP chief Mark Gill and his team swooped after the French-producedpicture's world premiere here on Sunday night, which drew rapturousapplause for attending talent Gondry and Gael Garcia Bernal, who plays abesotted artist caught in limbo between the waking and sleeping worlds. Charlotte Gainsbourg also stars.
In another deal announced today, TF1 International picked up internationalrights excluding English-speaking territories to Christopher Quinn's 'lost boysof Sudan' documentary God Grew Tired Of Us.
As soon as the credits on The Science Of Sleep rolled, the darkened interior of theEccles Theatre was lit up by a constellation of mobile and PDA screens asbuyers went to work.
Gill, whose six-strong team was immediately unanimous about the picture'squality and suitability, beat out rival bids by John Lesher's new-look ParamountClassics, among others. Negotiations finally concluded around 4am.
It is understood Lesher's team offered $7m for worldwide rights.
The Gaumont and Partizan Films Presentation was produced by GeorgeBermann and Frederic Junqua. Gondry's previous film as director was EternalSunshine Of A Spotless Mind.
"This is a relentlessly inventive film," Gill said."It's certainly the most inventive film I have seen in severalyears." WiP plans a release sometime in 2006 and will coordinate withGaumont on exactly when it plans to open the French and English-languagepicture in France this year.
"We are extremely excited to enter a new relationship withWarner Independent," Gaumont chief executive officer Franck Chorot said. "MichelGondry's Science Of Sleep is the perfect example of the best world cinema canbe and we look forward to sharing his future visions."
Gill and WiP senior vice president of production and acquisitionsPaul Federbush negotiated the deal with Gaumont's head of sales Loic Trocme,Gondry's lawyer Robert Offer, UTA, CAA, and Jamie Feldman from Lichter,Grossman, Nichols & Adler on behalf of Gaumont.
The God Grew Tired Of Us deal was negotiated by TF1's head of acquisitions Sara Mayand legal executive Caroline Dubourg with CAA on behalf of the filmmakers.
Christopher Quinn's picture received its world premiere on Sundayand follows three Sudanese war orphans over four years as they leave Africa fortheir new home in New York City.
Quinn produced with Molly Bradford, with Brad Pitt, AdamSchlesinger and Jack Schneider serving as executive producers. Nicole Kidman narrated.
"We at TF1 International are committed to films like GoodGrew Tired Of Us thatobjectively address paradoxes and issues in our society in a moving andtouching way," TF1 head of international Nicholas Eschbach said, addingthat he would take the picture to the Berlin market next month.
Elsewhere negotiations were intensifying on Joey Lauren Adam's Southerndrama Come Early Morning, while Neil Burger's The Illusionist and Ryan Fleck's inner city high school drama Half Nelson have emerged as hot titles.
At time of writing buyers continued to circle the documentaries Wordplay and Wrestling With Angels: PlaywrightTony Kushner, as well asthe narrative title Off The Black.