Sundance 2013: Sony buys Austenland, Sony Pictures Classics to distribute in US

By Lucas Shaw

NEW YORK ( - Sony has taken worldwide rights to "Austenland," Jerusha Hess' film about a Jane Austen fanatic who goes to an Austen theme park looking for the perfect man.

Jerusha Hess, who co-wrote "Napoleon Dynamite" with husband Jared Hess, co-wrote and directed the film. It is her directorial debut.

"Twilight" creator" Stephenie Meyer produced "Austenland," which premiered at Sundance on Friday.

Several bidders have been in pursuit since then, and over the weekend several reports indicated that Exclusive Releasing and FilmDistrict were going to split it. That deal never closed, and Sony swept in to take it.

Specialty label Sony Pictures Classics will release the film domestically.

"We love this movie," Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement. "It announces the birth of a major filmmaker and Stephenie Meyer is truly a force of nature. We look forward to bringing 'Austenland' to American audiences."

Based on Shannon Hale's novel, the film stars Keri Russell as the Austen fan who goes to the set of a BBC production of "Pride and Prejudice." Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour, JJ Felid and Bret McKenzie also star.

UTA, which represents both Meyer and Hess, negotiated the deal with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.

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