Fox Searchlight Wins First Sundance Bidding War, For 'Beasts Of The Southern Wild'

Fox Searchlight has become a big buyer at Sundance in the past couple years, and this year has already picked up two of the most acclaimed films playing the fest. Last night the company grabbed the rights to the John Hawkes/Helen Hunt film The Surrogate, which is already generating Oscar talk for next year thanks to the strength of Hawkes' performance.

And now Fox Searchlight has finalized a deal to distribute the film Beasts of the Southern Wild. Neither Pete nor Germain has seen the film yet, so we haven't covered it up until this point, but the movie quickly became one of the Sundance films I'm most interested in seeing, as early reviews have used language like "remarkable, beautiful, moving and astonishing" to describe the story that gets inside the head of a young girl worried about the end of her universe.

The quote above comes from the Badass Digest review of the film. Beasts is by Benh Zeitlin, who made the 2006 short film Glory at Sea. This one stars newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis, one of many first-time actors in the film, as six year-old Hushpuppy, who lives in a somewhat alternate version of southern Louisiana.

While reporting on the Searchlight buy, THR summed up Beasts as follows:

Beasts centers on Hushpuppy, a six-year-old girl who lives with her tough-love father at the edge of the water on the outside of protective levees in southernmost Louisiana. As he becomes sick and tries to prepare her for the end of the universe, mildly apocalyptic events cause the seas to rise, animals and trees to begin dying and giant, prehistoric creatures to thaw from the ice caps. As they struggle to survive with a handful of their neighbors who also refuse to leave their water-drenched home (called the Bathtub), Hushpuppy is forced to comprehend her place in the universe.

THR also reviewed the film saying, calling it "one of the most striking films ever to debut at the Sundance Film Festival," and says the film "unequivocally casts a spell, one that emanates from the strange world it inhabits and evokes, as well as from the extraordinarily sensitive and expressive way Zeitlin and his colleagues have rendered it."

We don't know when Fox Searchlight will put Beasts of the Southern Wild into theaters, but we'll hope we won't have to wait a year, as we have for the 2010 Sundance buy The Sound of My Voice.