Lauren Greenfield’s The Queen of Versailles (pictured) and Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching For Sugar Man have both found buyers after premiering on the opening day of Sundance 2012, with Magnolia Pictures picking up the former and Sony Pictures Classics securing the latter.
Versailles, which looks at the impact the economic downturn has on a couple attempting to build the largest house in America, was the opening day U.S. Documentary Competition title, kicking off the festival on Thursday (January 19), while Sugar Man played the same day as the opening World Cinema Documentary Competition title. Sundance screened only two docs on its opening day.
Magnolia is planning a summer theatrical release for Versailles, and the deal was negotiated for the company by senior VP of acquisitions Dori Begley along with Submarine’s Josh Braun and David Koh. The BBC’s ‘Storyville’ strand has UK television rights for the film.
“The Queen of Versailles brilliantly encapsulates the salient issues of the American economic downturn, while also being one of the most jaw-droppingly entertaining films I’ve seen in a very long time,” said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles in a statement. “Lauren Greenfield is an exceptionally talented filmmaker with a wonderfully humanistic touch, and she has found a truly magnetic, charismatic star in Jackie Siegel.”
Sugar Man, meanwhile, looks at Rodriguez, a 1970s rock musician who disappeared into oblivion, often regarded as “the greatest rock icon who never was.” The film was produced by Simon Chinn of Red Box Films (Project Nim, Man on Wire) and exec produced by John Battsek of Passion Pictures (The Tillman Story, One Day in September) in association with Canfield Pictures and The Documentary Company.
In a statement, Chinn said: “We are hugely excited that Searching for Sugar Man has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. Their passion for this film combined with their stellar track record makes them the perfect distributors for it.”
Versailles was one of five hot U.S. docs tipped for realscreen by Sundance Film Festival senior programmer David Courier last week. Realscreen first revealed the film would be playing this year’s Sundance fest last November.