By Benjamin Wright | The Playlist January 25, 2012 at 11:43AM
As many of you know, the Sundance Film Festival is well underway, and there’s been no shortage of studios acquiring some buzzed-about independent titles. As the fest winds into its last few days, the deals are getting done.
First up is Focus Features snagging “For a Good Time, Call…,” which unfortunately isn’t a movie based on the Tommy Tune song “867-5309/Jenny,” but rather a feisty little comedy about two women who start up a phone sex hotline. So it’s really not that far of a stretch from that little slice of ‘80s nostalgia. The art house label of Universal Pictures acquired the pic for somewhere between $2-3 million. Directed by Jamie Travis, the film was written by Katie Anne Naylon and Lauren Anne Miller, who also stars alongside actress Ari Graynor in the feature. Focus has had a decent track record over the past few years, having acquired Sundance hits like “Pariah,” the Academy Award-nominated “The Kids Are All Right” and the Steve Coogan-starring “Hamlet 2.” We also have a clip, thanks to MTV, featuring Miller’s character being taught a lesson on “rape prevention” by Graynor, which leads to some hysterics. Looks to be a diverting little farce, but we’ll see.
Also worth mentioning, the subversive romantic comedy “Celeste and Jesse Forever" has sold to Sony Pictures Classics. The independent feature, directed by “The Vicious Kind” helmer Lee Toland Krieger and starring 'SNL' regular Andy Samberg along with “Parks and Recreation” beauty Rashida Jones, who also co-wrote with fellow thesp Will McCormack, the film follows a couple who attempts to maintain a friendship following their divorce. The film has been earning strong notices out of Park City, and the pickup by this mighty arthouse shingle means the talk around this one is only beginning.
While reviews haven't been so hot, The Weinstein Company are betting on Stephen Frears' "Lay The Favorite." Well, maybe. Logistics apparently still need to be worked out, and nothing has formally closed yet, but it seems everyone involved feels like this is going to happen. Starring Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the film follows the adventures of a stripper turned bookie in Las Vegas. The star power guaranteed someone was going to nab this, and it seems Harv believes that bad reviews aside (read ours here), he can spin this one into a success. Don't bet against him.
Speaking of iffy reviews, word hasn't been too kind towards "Red Lights," the pyschological thriller from "Buried" director Rodrigo Cortes. This one also features a gaggle of names -- Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Elizabeth Olsen -- and centers on a psychologist (Weaver) and her assistant (Murphy) whose study of paranormal activity leads them to investigate a world-renowned psychic (De Niro). The psychologist attempts to debunk the psychic's work after he steps back into the limelight after 30 years. Millenium Entertainment will turn this one on, snapping up the U.S. distribution rights.
Finally, the Katie Aselton thriller "Black Rock" has found a home with Elle Driver, with LD Entertainment set to handle the theatrical release later this year. Directed by Aselton, who also co-stars along with Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth, the film tracks the journey of three women whose weekend away on an island turns dangerous. "Black Rock"'s a pretty nifty little thriller that's a cut above the rest (our review). [THR/THR/Variety/Variety/Deadline]