[UPDATED] Like Crazy, Latest Film From OC-Bred Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones, Is First Sundance Sale

UPDATE, JAN. 23, 2:51 P.M.: The reaction to Like Crazy getting picked up from Ben York Jones:

"I'm completely overwhelmed. I don't think anyone here with the film has gotten more than an hour or two of sleep in the past 36 hours. Those negotiating were up all night doing so, and the rest of us were up speculating who they were going to go with. It's been a long and great day."

He promises his own post shortly. Stay tuned.

Drake-Doremus-Like-Crazy-150.jpg
One happy filmmaker
ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 23, 12:04 P.M.: Santa Ana-bred filmmaker Drake Doremus' amazing streak in Park City, Utah, continues, as his new film, Like Crazy, was the first indie feature sold at the Sundance Film Festival--reportedly for a cool $4 million to, get this, Paramount Pictures.

The movie, which the 27-year-old co-wrote with his childhood chum Ben York Jones, 26, of Corona del Mar, only premiered yesterday afternoon at the festival Robert Redford co-founded. The deal was sealed after an all-night bidding session.

Needless to say, the negotiating and other events of the day left Jones exhausted--and exhilarated.

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Felicity Jones, with the upper torso and neck of Anton Yelchin, stars in Like Crazy.
As a result, he's taking a little more time to finish off his next blog post from Sundance for the Weekly.


But here is what we know about the deal: What's been billed as the hottest movie at this year's festival was purchased for Paramount's new Insurge Picture label, which held its coming-out party on Park City's Main Street Saturday evening, shortly after the end credits rolled for Like Crazy across town.

Entertainment Weekly
online reports:

Paramount chief Adam Goodman emerged from the bash with a cat-who-ate-the-canary smile, having heard praise about the movie all night from those who caught its Saturday-afternoon premiere. He had just made an offer. By dawn, his company had sealed the deal.

EW boasts of getting the "exclusive" from sources close to the deal that the sale price was $4 million--"a solid number for a Sundance pick-up."

With a major studio backing it, this tiny romantic drama starring Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the recent Star Trek reboot) and Felicity Jones (who costarred in the remake of The Tempest) will likely have the support it needs to connect beyond the art-house. How audiences ultimately respond is still uncertain, but if the viewers who have seen its single public showing are any indication, there's potential to make the mainstream swoon just as hard as the story's young lovers.

Like Crazy is the story of an American (Yelchin) and Brit (Jones) who fall head over Sketchers while both attend the same college in the States, but then must deal with the rigors of a cross-ocean romance. Entered in Sundance's U.S. Dramatic Competition, Doremus' third feature is said to be his most serious to date. It received a huge thumbs-up from the Los Angeles Times' influential film critic Kenneth Turan.

Doremus has had an incredible film trajectory. An Orange County child-theater prodigy thanks to the influence of his mother, Cherie Kerr (a former member of the Groundlings and founder of the Santa Ana-based Orange County Crazies improv troupe), Doremus dropped out of Fullerton High School to write and direct his plays (although, his mom is quick to note, he later got his GED).

He managed at 19 to become the then-youngest student in the filmmaking program at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

Two years ago, Doremus' debut feature, Spooner, starring former Tustin resident Matthew Lillard, got picked up by Slamdance, the spunky, no-budget festival that runs in nearby Salt Lake City during Sundance. During that experience, Doremus attended films at Sundance, dreaming of someday having one of his films play at one of independent cinema's most-prestigious festivals.

His dream came true the next year, when Douchebag came out of nowhere to be selected for Sundance's respected U.S. Dramatic Competition. The dramedy, which was partly shot in Newport Beach and starred film editor Andrew Dickler in his first role and then-unknown Jones, was the darling of Sundance's programmer and among the most-buzzed-about features there. But it did not sell until after the festival and reportedly made only $20,000 and change in its short theatrical run in the fall of 2010.


Local audiences can hope Like Crazy will screen at the Newport Beach Film Festival in April, as Spooner and Douchebag did at the past two NBFFs. Festival reps are in Park City right now, and they have told me they caught up with Jones the other day. Sounds as though if they want to get to him and Doremus now, they are going to have to get in line.

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