Another day at the Sundance Film Festival has passed and two more movies have sold (or are close to selling) with Jershua Hess’ Austenland, produced by Stephenie Meyer of “Twilight” fame, going to Sony Worldwide Acquisitions (for release by Sony Pictures Classics), and the coming-of-age comedy The Way, Way Back, by Oscar-winning The Descendants screenwriters Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, being picked up by Fox Searchlight.
Based on the novel by Shannon Hale, Austenland stars Keri Russell, who starred in the Sundance hit Waitress, as Jane Hayes, a New Yorker who is obsessed with Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” particularly the BBC adaptation starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. This leads to her visiting an English resort where Austen-crazed women can mingle with gentlemen to find their own Mr. Darcy.
According to reports, Sony picked up the movie for more than $3 million with plans to release it through the prestige label Sony Pictures Classics.
Faxon and Rash’s movie stars Liam James as a 14 year old spending a summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) who finds solace in a mentor played by Sam Rockwell.
It probably isn’t too big a surprise that Fox Searchlight made an aggressive play for the movie, reportedly bidding a whopping $10 million for the movie against Lionsgate, FilmDistrict, Paramount and others, according to Deadline. After all, Searchlight released The Descendants, which won an Oscar for filmmakers Faxon and Rash. The comedy also marks a reunion between Carell and Collette, two of the stars of Little Miss Sunshine, one of the bigger hits to come out of the Sundance Film Festival after being bought by Searchlight in 2006. It went on to gross $100 million worldwide and win two Oscars.