SLOW SALES: Film acquisitions at Sundance were markedly slower this year, with only a handful of deals coming through in the festival’s first six days: for the documentaries “American Teen,” “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” the dramedies “Henry Poole Is Here” and “Choke” and the ensemble comedy “Hamlet 2,” which sold for a staggering $10 million. Insiders say buyers are more shrewd this time around, wary of the news-making yet inflated deals of years past that failed to turn big box office profits. Still, some of the most marketable features, including the Amy Adams-Emily Blunt dark comedy “Sunshine Cleaning,” the coming-of-age pic “The Wackness” starring Sir Ben Kingsley and Olivia Thirlby, with a cameo by Mary-Kate Olsen, and the genre thriller “Transsiberian” starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer and Kate Mara are still in play.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: It seems actors have finally caught on to the Swagdance stigma — at least for appearance’s sake. While the various gift suites were crawling with stars, very few save for the Paris Hilton-Kim Kardashian types were willing to have their photos snapped while grabbing free stuff — which this year ranged from the useful (thermals, jeans and snowboards) to the not-so-much (Guitar Hero, long sari-printed sundresses). Perhaps one of the best-known actresses at the festival, Sarah Jessica Parker, was also the most elusive, refusing photos and generally acting like a hermit instead of someone with a movie, “Smart People,” to promote. Still, she did make time to hit the Fred Segal gift suite at The Lift, walking away with a $750 Spyder ski jacket (the same style Demi Moore has) and two pairs of $330 Love From Australia shearling boots, known as the dressier Ugg alternative at the fest. Maria Bello and Jessica Alba were among the other stars to favor the brands and their publicists wasted no time transmitting their quotes over the Internet as well as a (nonposed) photo of Alba wearing her shearling boots around town. Less guilt-laden was Mischa Barton, who picked up a guitar charm and a peace sign necklace at the Getty Images suite. “Sometimes I feel really guilty about the whole thing,” she admitted. “But still, it’s really fun, and yeah of course all my friends are so jealous!”
This story first appeared in the January 24, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
SKI SUITS: For the most fashion-forward celebs, it seemed that city garb had returned to Park City after years of warm-blooded types trying to masquerade as furry animals. Like a slew of other starlets, actress Charlize Theron opted for an urban look in a sleek wool coat (no shearling or fur, perhaps in deference to the PETA demonstrators chanting on Main Street) and knee-high Hogan Rock boots. Mary-Kate Olsen and Kirsten Dunst also donned fedoras instead of ski-bum beanies while hanging out at the MySpace Café and Teddy’s. But at least one person stuck to fur: Sir Ben Kingsley (who stars in both “The Wackness” and “Transsiberian”) donned a floor-length coat while shopping in Albertson’s supermarket with his wife, decked out in a fur hat.