Three more films have been added to the stack of movies picked up for distribution at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival as deals were closed for the Jack Black-James Marsden comedy The D Train, Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Rick Fujiyama’s Dope. Furthermore, a third coming-of-age film in competition, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl ended a heated bidding war with the biggest sale in the history of the festival.
IFC Films started the day by buying The D Train, Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel’s comedy that stars Jack Black as an insecure guy preparing for his 20th high school reunion by befriending the most popular guy in his class (Marsden) in order to boost his reputation.
Later that day, Sony Pictures Classics scooped up Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl, starring British actress Bel Powley as a 15-year-old comic book artist in ’70s San Francisco who begins sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend. Kristen Wiig plays her mother, Alexander Skarsgard plays the boyfriend and it also co-stars Christopher Meloni.
Also premiering in the US Dramatic Competition, Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope, is another coming-of-age film, this one about three youth growing up in a tough Los Angeles neighborhood, as played by Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Kersey Clemons. The film scored a lucrative $7 million deal (with an additional $15 million in P&A), splitting distribution between Open Road for domestic distribution and Sony for international. The film co-stars Zoe Kravitz with cameos by Kimberly Elise and Forest Whitaker.
That would have been the biggest deal of the festival until a bidding war was waged for Alfonso Gomez-Rejo’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which ultimately reached $12 million for worldwide rights paid by Fox Searchlight. Starring Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler and Olivia Cooke, it’s adapted by Jesse Andrews from his own novel about an outcast high school senior (Mann) who is urged to spend time with a girl suffering from leukemia (Cooke). That makes it the biggest deal in Sundance history, surpassing the $10 million paid (also by Fox Searchlight) for The Way Way Back and Little Miss Sunshine and Focus Features’ deal for Hamlet II.