PopcornBiz's Scott Ross is reporting from the annual film festival in Sundance, Utah, where new independent films are unveiled.
For anyone whose primary Sundance experience is when Vinnie and the gang from "Entourage" went there to unveil Queens Boulevard,” know this: it’s a lie.
Movies are shown all over town, from the local library to the elementary school, and even in nearby towns of Salt Lake City, Ogden and The Sundance Resort. Locals do their best to tolerate the stars, critics and fans who turn their quaint town upside down for 10 days every year. But the sprawl wrought by the Sundance Film Festival's success since its 1985 inception has given way this year to a move to return to the original indie roots.
The schedule is filled with dense, arty films like "I Am Love" and "3 Backyards" that will have a hard time finding an audience for all the skill on display. And there are a number films that are remarkably violent, like "The Killer Inside Me," "Splice," and "7 Days," that won't be easy to market for most studios.
But the market forecasters seem to forget that one of the few slam-dunk, sure-fire sales took place in December, when Apparition scooped up “The Runaways,” the rock biopic starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. “Buried,” starring Ryan Reynolds as a hostage being held in a coffin, was the first in-festival sale, but it wasn’t enough to inspire a full-fledged thaw. Nor was the sale of “Tucker & Dale vs Evil,” about two rednecks mistaken for serial killers, still wasn’t enough.
Maybe news that both "Hesher," starring a highly buzzed (literally and figuratively -- now that's a double entendre!)) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and "12," starring Gossip Boy Chace Crawford as a New York teen all hopped up on drugs, have found deals will get the ball rolling.
"Blue Valentine," starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling as a couple whose marriage is on the rocks, is sure to find a buyer. So is "Nowhere Boy," an excellent coming-of-age biopic about a teenage John Lennon. To say nothing of "Welcome to the Rileys," with Kristen Stewart, James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo.
The movies themselves are the news, but the stars in them are making waves here, too. Stewart was allegedly denied entry to a bar because she’s two years short of the drinking age and rumor has it that Jessica Alba was chased out of a screening of her new film, “The Killer Inside Me,” by the sight of herself being bludgeoned to death. While that remains in question, director Michael Winterbottom got an earful from the audience after a screening about the excessive violence.
Joan Rivers, the subject of a documentary in competition here, made a surprise appearance at a screening and launched into a polemic about how crap the swag situation is this year.
Rivers should direct her complaints to festival founder Robert Redford, who made it his mission to keep the “ambush marketers” away. “(We) ended up with the likes of Paris Hilton, which doesn’t have anything to do with us,” the grizzled movie star said in his press conference last week.
He may have stopped Paris from crossing the border, but the streets of Park City have still been littered with the likes of Jon Gosselin, who probably thinks Sundance is something Native Americans do when it’s rained too long.