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First Big Sundance Pickup: Lionsgate Gets ‘Buried’

At $3.2M, the Ryan Reynolds thriller becomes the first major pickup of the 2010 festival

Lionsgate acquired the domestic distribution rights to "Buried," the first major feature pickup of a Sundance Film Festival that’s so far seen little in the way of bidding or acquisitions.

The Ryan Reynolds thriller about a private contractor who is kidnapped in Iraq and buried alive had its world debut at the festival in Park City, Utah, on Saturday night. By Sunday morning, aggressive negotiations began — and ended with a reported $3.2 million sale.

The film, which takes place entirely inside a wooden coffin, has a particularly dark ending — so much so that it was considered off-putting to many major buyers.

It’s the first English-language film by Spaniard Rodrigo Cortés, and was shot in his native Spain.

"I’m very excited to be working with Lionsgate," affirmed Cortés.  "They are consistently creative and know how to use their resources to make the strongest possible impact – which is exactly what we set out to do with BURIED.  So it’s a very natural fit."

Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, a truck driver who wakes up in the coffin. Not knowing who might have put him there or why, his only chance to escape is a mysterious cell phone with poor reception and a low battery.

"’Buried’ is a powerful reminder that all you really need for an unforgettable movie experience is a great story, inventive filmmaking and brilliant acting," Jason Constantine, Lionsgate’s president of acquisitions and co-productions, said in a statement.