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Park City at Midnight is getting special attention

'Paranormal Activity's' box-office success puts focus on the section of the festival that features low-budget horrors and raunch.

January 21, 2010|By John Horn and Steven Zeitchik

For all of "Paranormal Activity's" success (the film wasn't invited to Sundance and instead played at Park City's concurrent Slamdance Film Festival), most of last year's Midnight movies disappeared from the multiplex almost as soon as the sun rose: "Black Dynamite," bought by Sony for $2 million, barely grossed $200,000 domestically, Norway's "Dead Snow" grossed $47,000, and "Grace" didn't even get to $10,000 in North American cinemas.

The news was better for dramas acquired last January: "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," is a minor hit and an Oscar contender, and "An Education" is popular with critics and art-house patrons.

With fewer buyers -- Miramax Films, Paramount Vantage and Warner Independent Pictures have all vanished -- optimists point to the ascendancy of video-on-demand services such as Cinetic FilmBuff and IFC Films along with several new buyers, including Oscilloscope Pictures (last year's Sundance title "The Messenger") and Apparition (this year's music drama "The Runaways").

For the makers of Sundance's scary movies, the best place to be is in a theater when everybody else is asleep.

Said Steven Hoban, the producer of the Park City at Midnight movie "Splice," which he said is about to land a distribution deal: "Midnight audiences all around the world are demanding movies that are interesting, thought-provoking and smart."

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