Focus Dials Up ‘For A Good Time, Call…’ Deal For Over $2 Million: Sundance

UPDATE: Focus Features has made the deal official. The release is under Deadline’s scoop.

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that Focus Features has closed an acquisition of For A Good Time, Call… in a deal that is a shade over $2 million for worldwide rights. The Jamie Travis-directed comedy was scripted by Katie Anne Naylon & Lauren Anne Miller. The ensemble cast includes Seth Rogen, Ari Graynor, Miller, Justin Long, Mark Webber, James Wolk, Mimi Rogers, and Nia Vardalos. The logline: Lauren (Miller) and Katie (Graynor) move in together after a loss of a relationship and a loss of a rent-controlled home, respectively. When Lauren learns what Katie does for a living — she runs a phone sex business — the two enter into a wildly unconventional business venture. Cinetic and Studio City Partners have been juggling offers since the film premiered Sunday night at the Eccles Theater. The reaction I heard is that this is a female-driven raunchy comedy in the vein of Bridesmaids, with heart.

The early-morning deal should be the first of several today, as buyers have seen most of their top priority films and will now start wheeling and dealing. The drama acquisitions began Sunday when CBS Films paid $2 million with a $1.5 million P&A commitment for The Words, and LD Entertainment paid near 7-figures for Black Rock. Last night’s $6 million Fox Searchlight deal for world rights on The Surrogate certainly caught buyers by surprise but was a real shot in the arm to the deal-making action here. There have been rumors since last week that Searchlight was zeroing down on Beasts Of The Southern Wild, but insiders said that they haven’t been the only one at the table and I could not confirm the deal at this point. Several others have offers, and I’ll let you know what films are going where when I hear. Several of these deals are for world rights, which is a smart play by buyers. In last year’s acquisitions, the companies that got more than domestic rights made money, even though a lot of the movies didn’t crush it at the domestic box office.

NEW YORK, January 24th, 2012 – Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to AdScott Pictures’ contemporary comedy For a Good Time, Call…, the debut feature from director Jamie Travis. For a Good Time, Call…, written by Lauren Anne Miller & Katie Anne Naylon, world-premiered this week at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Focus CEO James Schamus and president Andrew Karpen made the announcement today.

Two young women, short on the funds needed to live in New York City, agree to room together. But they’re an at-odds couple; Lauren (played by Ms. Miller) is reserved, while Katie (Ari Graynor of The Sitter) is irrepressible. These roommates have nothing in common – until Lauren discovers that Katie is working as a phone-sex operator, and recognizes a good business opportunity. As the money begins to roll in, the two realize the value of not just their booming partnership but their growing friendship.

Ms. Miller and Ms. Naylon produced the movie with Josh Kesselman, Jenny Hinkey, and Jennifer Weinbaum. Ms. Graynor is also an executive producer of the movie along with Daniel M. Miller, who financed the film through his AdScott Pictures. The filmmakers were represented in the transaction by Cinetic Media and Sloss Eckhouse LawCo.

Mr. Schamus said, “The For a Good Time… team have crafted that rarest of combinations – a wildly funny comedy that’s also a genuine and heartfelt celebration of friendship and love. We’re so proud to join them in bringing to the world a film that not only lifted its cheering audiences at Sundance to their feet, but lifted our spirits, too.”

Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.focusfeatures.com) comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world.

Comments (9)

  • 2 Million for the world? With that cast? Film probably cost 4 times that amount to make. Who eats up the difference ? Another case of celebrated equity burn. And this is one of the “success stories” of the independent world.

    Comment by prophet — Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 8:02am PST  
    • exactly
      even if the big names were working for scale is someone not losing money ?
      of course there is the ‘backend’ aka zero

      Comment by bruckey — Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 8:32am PST  
    • The film cost less than a million. Are you even in the business? No. So puhleeze stop with your ridiculous theories from the thunderdome of your mom’s basement and stick to predicting lotto numbers. Leave the numbers to the professionals

      Much fake love-

      Hollywood

      Comment by Prophet is an idiot — Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 11:04pm PST  
  • So if this is one of the more high profile sales here at Sundance, we are all in serious trouble.

    The film that CBS films bought was practically unwatchable. I walked out of it.

    I’m scratching my head here on a daily basis.

    -RnsW

    Comment by Robert Not So Wise — Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 8:50am PST  
  • My understanding is that the film was done on a shoe-string budget – less than 600k and most of the actors did it either pro-bono or for cheap because they loved the project so much. So 2m is a boon for these guys.

    Comment by Steven post — Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 9:22am PST  
    • You have the true story, shoestring budget and a lot of faith by many…all good.

      Comment by sandy — Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 10:30am PST  
    • SAG actors are not allowed to work pro-bono. Their version of working for pro-bono is working for scale, which is still a lot of money for a small production.

      Comment by HW — Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 10:39am PST  
  • From what I’ve read the film cost a little north of 700K. I think this a big win for doing something with studio sensibilities outside of the studio system. Comedies should be funny first and expensive second. If a studio had made this film it probably would have been half as good and ten times as expensive.

    Comment by BlackHorse — Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 9:37am PST  
  • The film cost much less than 1m. Do you even know how to board and budget an indie? No. Then shut up and limit your predictions to the horsetrack and lotto tickets. Moron.

    Comment by Prophet is a moron... — Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 9:56am PST  
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