‘Blindspotting’ Bidding War: Neon, The Orchard, CBS Films Chase Racial Drama

Sundance 2018: Indie studios are aggressively courting race-themed drama set in Oakland

Three distributors — Neon, The Orchard and CBS Films — are aggressively courting the buzzy, race-themed Sundance drama “Blindspotting,” multiple individuals told TheWrap.

MoviePass, the moviegoing subscription service that announced plans to acquire films at the festival, is also seeking a co-release with whoever ends up buying the film, one individual close to the negotiations said.

Carlos Lopez Estrada directed the buddy story starring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, who also c0-wrote the screenplay. The film tells the story of two friends in Oakland, facing probation, police violence and the pressure of hipster tech gentrification. The film opened the festival on Thursday and has been generating buzz ever since. The festival has produced very few sales thus far, the most notable being Keira Knightley’s “Collette.”

The co-release would seek an opening date tied to the mid-term elections in November, according to the insider, to capitalize on the timely themes of race and class in the film. Another insider told TheWrap that sales agent WME got numerous calls after “Sorry to Bother You” screened at the festival on Saturday night. Distributors wanted to see both films before deciding which was a better fit. The insider also said the negotiations are going to go slow while they hear out the marketing and distribution plans of each player.

Neon’s position in the bidding is not as strong as The Orchard’s or CBS Films’, said another individual, who added they may have bowed out in face of the competition.

From the review: The film opens with Collin (Diggs) being released from prison on probation; he has to live in a halfway house for a year, remaining employed and obeying a curfew, after which time he will be fully released. Jump ahead eleven months and 27 days to the last 72 hours of his probation, as he’s trying to get out of a car where his lifelong friend Miles (Casal) is buying a gun. It’s a hilarious scene, one that’s as much about their local burger joint going vegan-umami as it is about firearms.

“Blindspotting” was produced by Snoot Entertainment.

MoviePass and WME had no comment. TheWrap also reached out to CBS Films, The Orchard and Neon. None immediately responded.