PARK CITY, Utah — From the looks of the lines outside the Eccles Theatre Friday night, you would have thought that people were waiting to get into the Golden Globes. But no, it was just the premiere of Double Whammy from director Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion, The Real Blonde) and starring Denis Leary and Elizabeth Hurley. Those who did finally get in unfortunately had to suffer through a lack of story development and flat performances from the two stars.
There was disappointment in the chilly air during the first few days of the festival, where the best among the assembled films were documentaries. As of Sunday evening, the Mr. Showbiz critics had seen a total of 14 films, only one of which — The Business of Strangers — stands out in the drama category. On the documentary side, our favorite so far is Dogtown and Z-Boys, a spectacular ride through the history of skateboarding and a look at the Southern California kids who turned it into a cultural movement.
Deal-Making Off to a Sleepy Start Thankfully, both aforementioned aces in the hole have received heavy distributor interest (Dogtown has multiple offers on the table, according to the film's enthused director, Stacy Peralta). But distributors are being less aggressive about making deals quickly than in years past. Only 13 of the 100 or so films at this year's festival arrived with deals in place, which is a remarkably low number compared to recent years. It wasn't until midday today that we got word about the fest's first pickup deal: Mr. Showbiz inside sources confirmed that a deal between Fox Searchlight and the makers of Super Trooper (which is part of the Midnight at Park City film series) is close.
Miramax, the king of independents, brought no films to Park City this year, and a publicist for the company pointed to that fact in a pre-fest e-mail, in which he also promised, "We will be there in a big way with acquisitions."
So far, no deals from Miramax — although company president Harvey Weinstein was very visible at Friday screenings before returning to Los Angeles for the Golden Globes. We wouldn't be surprised if he snatches up multiple films when he gets back to Park City. Other major distributors — including Fine Line Features, Lions Gate, Fox Searchlight, and Sony Pictures Classics — have also been quiet, though all have dispatched their executives to screenings. But while the deal-making may be getting off to a sleepy start, few people are worried.
"Many of these films have only screened once," says veteran Sundance publicist Jeremy Walker, who is here representing four films, one of which, L.I.E., has a deal on the table, and others of which are attracting serious attention. "I'm incredibly encouraged by how closely people are looking at these films."
Anyone Got $10 Million to Spare on a Home? There's a new trend on the party circuit this year: take multimillion-dollar homes that were either built on spec or have not yet been sold, and turn them into massive party spaces — complete with catering-filled kitchens and bars built out of ice and snow in the backyard. By the end of the weekend, we'd already attended three premiere parties thrown at such houses up in Deer Valley and had invites for four more. The Synergy Spa house, which reportedly cost more than $10 million to build, hosted bashes for Super Troopers and Dogtown and Z-Boys over the weekend. And the more exclusive party for MacArthur Park, which was supposed to feature a performance by singer Macy Gray (who's featured on the soundtrack), was held at a neighboring home.
Gray's plane apparently never made it to Utah because of mechanical troubles, but the guests who stuck it out were treated to two sets from Jane's Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins' instrumental funk band, Sky, which also appears on the film's soundtrack, and to DJs spinning on two floors. The eye candy was provided by a revolving door of celebrity appearances by stars like Traci Lords, Rachel Hunter, Billy Zane, Stephen Baldwin, Julie Delpy, James Duval, and — surrounded by handlers and hidden in a private room — Mick Jagger, who co-produced Enigma, which premieres in Park City tonight.
At another home-based party Saturday night, 'N Sync member Lance Bass introduced his new film production company, Happy Place Entertainment, and a performance by former teen star Tiffany; sorry, no duet. Still up this week: fêtes for star-laden film Julie Johnson (featuring Courtney Love), the Independent Film Channel party, and the annual William Morris Agency soirée, which, much to our bewilderment, we've been invited to.