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As I mentioned at the fest, I think the film with the most awards potential to come out of Sundance this year is Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight." Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress and maybe even Best Actor and Best Picture could be in the cards. It just needs the right nuanced campaign.
Lionsgate was hovering. Fox Searchlight seemed like a good fit and was probably in the mix, but they sure did drop a lot on "The Way Way Back." So it was Sony Pictures Classics, which was busy at the fest with acquisitions of "Austenland" and "Kill Your Darlings," that grabbed the title for what is said to be well into the seven figure range.
It's a great fit and a nice reunion for Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Linklater. Going way back to 1991 when the Sony Classics co-chiefs were heading up Orion Classics, they introduced Linklater to the world with the watershed "Slacker." Barker even wrote a nice little essay for the film's Criterion release that's well worth the read. And indeed, that film was invoked in the press release:
"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."
I like the fit and I wish the film the best throughout the year. No release date has been announced but I hope it gets its due, both at the box office and on the circuit.