Date: January 28, 2006
Byline: David M. Halbfinger
Sundance Shines Light on Changes in Market
Excerpt from a longer article
But Tuesday night, Mr. Sehring made what he called "the coup of Sundance," paying $1 million for "Wordplay," a documentary about crossword puzzle lovers featuring The New York Times's puzzle editor, Will Shortz.
Mr. Sehring said he believed "Wordplay" could wind up being the second most commercial film to emerge from Sundance after "Little Miss Sunshine," given the tens of millions of people who do crosswords.
"We bought a movie that may not do 'Penguins' business, but should do 'Mad Hot Ballroom' business," said Mr. Sehring, who had raised his offer twice when told by John Sloss, the film's agent, that the directors would not settle for less than $1 million.
Mr. Sloss, with 10 films at the festival, later came in for criticism from Tom Bernard, a co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, which also bid for "Wordplay," as did Mr. Gill of Warner Independent. Neither bid more than $500,000, but Mr. Bernard said Mr. Sloss had failed to inform the directors of Sony's offer. Mr. Sloss said he "didn't want to prejudice the filmmakers against the company" before they had met with Sony executives.