After acquiring "The Surrogate", Fox Searchlight has bought another well-reviewed indie film at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. On Tuesday, January 24, the studio has officially bagged the U.S. distribution rights to Benh Zeitlin's directorial debut "Beasts of the Southern Wild".
Searchlight has won the bidding war against other major indie studios, like The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classic and Focus Features. With Searchlight owning the distribution rights, the film is planned to be released sometime this year.
Of the partnership, director Zeitlin said, "We were looking for a partner who would unleash our film on the world with the same energy and ferocity with which we made it." He added, "Fox Searchlight came to the table with big hearts and fierce resolve, they're a perfect match for the project."
Fox Searchlight's Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley said in a joint statement, "In his feature film debut, Benh Zeitlin has crafted a visually stunning and deeply poetic film that captured our hearts. The amazing performances by newcomer Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry are wonder to behold."
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" follows a six-year-old girl who lives in a "forgotten" Louisiana bayou community with her father. The little girl aims to find her lost mother after a fierce storm wreaks havoc on her world. The film was praised for using a heavy doze of magical realism in telling its story.
The drama has also won the Sundance Institute's Indian Paintbrush Producer's Award. It has become the darling at the festival since it was screened last Friday at the Eccles Theatre.
In addition to "Beast", Fox Searchlight has bought the rights to Ben Lewin's "The Surrogate" on Monday, January 23. The studio acquired the real-life drama movie for $6 million, making it the largest buying at the annual festival so far.