Sundance 2013: Magnolia Nabs North American Rights to ‘Prince Avalanche’

"Prince Avalanche" stars Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd

Magnolia Pictures has nabbed North American rights to David Gordon Green's "Prince Avalanche," one of the hottest titles at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

The film stars Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch and marks Green's return to indie film after a lucrative stint directing Hollywood comedies like "Pineapple Express." The company said it is eyeing a summer release for the film.

The low-budget comedy centers on two road workers, who spend the summer of 1988 in rural Texas repairing a stretch of country highway that has been damaged by wildfires. It was loosely adapted from an Icelandic film called "Either Way."

"'Prince Avalanche' was a strange joy to make and the reaction by audiences has been beautiful,” Green said in a statement. “The pleasure continues as we join with Magnolia to distribute the movie. I couldn't be more proud."

For the most part critics have been kind, pleased in part to see Green return to his more lyrical, less commercial roots. The filmmaker made a name for himself as a disciple of Terrence Malick, spinning such visually rich, regional tales as "Undertow" and "George Washington," before shifting course to work on films including the comedy "Your Highness." The decision perplexed many of his early champions.

In IndieWire, Eric Kohn said the new movie stumbles, but still welcomed Green's attempt to take on more challenging fare.

"If not a return to form, it's nevertheless a long-overdue explanatory note for the last five years," Kohn wrote.

In the Hollywood Reporter, David Rooney echoed Kohn's enthusiasm and praised the performances of Hirsch and Rudd, along with Green's script and directing.

"Perhaps Green’s chief accomplishment in this odd little gem of a movie is that he coaxes that mutual compassion out of the characters without having to put it into words," Rooney wrote.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia Senior Vice President of Acquisitions Dori Begley with John Sloss and Cinetic.