John Sloss did the right thing. The Cinetic Media chief was pacing the second floor of Zoom in Park City Monday night as his annual Sundance Film Festival party raged around him. He was weighing the offers that had come pouring in for "Before Midnight," the third film in Richard Linklater's trilogy about Celine and Jesse, who first met 18 years ago in "Before Sunrise," and reignited their romance nine years ago in "Before Sunset," which nabbed an Oscar nomination for Adapted Screenplay.
Castle Rock and Sony's Columbia produced the first one, while Warner Independent released the second. Seven buyers including Lionsgate were in the hunt, but finally Sloss closed a high seven-figure deal yesterday with Sony Pictures Classics for North American and UK rights. The movie scored huge audience reaction over the past week after its Sunday debut. (Here's our review and round-up.) He could have shown the pre-branded film to distributors before the fest, but opted to wait. And he could have gone for some pretty big bucks. But Tom Bernard and Michael Barker know what they're doing, have great Sony output deals around the world, and might deliver another Oscar nod or two. 'Nuff said.
"In 1991 we were in Sundance with SLACKER and we witnessed the birth of a major American filmmaker. At Sundance 2013 with BEFORE MIDNIGHT, we have further confirmation that Richard Linklater is a film master at the peak of his form. This one has it all as entertainment and as a work of cinematic art. It is a perfect movie made by not one but three auteurs, Rick, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy. This movie will be incredibly successful around the world. And the acquisition is all the sweeter for our being back with Rick and producers Martin Shafer, Liz Glotzer and John Sloss," stated Sony Pictures Classics.
The film is produced by Linklater, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos and Sara Woodhatch and executive produced by Jacob Pechenik, Martin Shafer, Liz Glotzer, and John Sloss. The deal was negotiated by SPC and Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers.
SPC will also release "Austenland," which was acquired with Sony Pictures Acqusition Group, as well as "Kill Your Darlings," a film starring Daniel Radcliffe as young Beat poet Allen Gisberg exploring his homosexuality. SPC also brought several films to Sundance, including Oscar-nominated Chilean film "No," starring Gael Garcia Bernal, and "The Gatekeepers," which is nominated for best documentary.