Sundance 2010: Splice Object of Service Deal Bidding Battle

There's a battle occurring for distribution rights to Vincenzo Natali's Splice at this year's Sundance film fest, but instead of acquisitions bidding in ever-escalating sums, the producers are being offered service contracts, which seems to be the trend in indie film distribution nowadays.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, under the service model, producers pay distributors an upfront fee and a percentage of box-office -- in many cases, that also covers the distributor's outlays for marketing and distribution. The upside is that they retain rights and future profits on the movie; the downside is they take on much greater financial risk. And new variations on the model are cropping up all the time, sometimes with distributors buying only partial rights.

Freestyle Releasing has built a business out of offering service deals, and new outfits like Mark Urman's Paladin, built around the same model, are popping up.

Toward the end of the bidding on Tuesday, it seemed like Apparition, the Weinstein Co., Newmarket Films, First Look Studios, and Samuel Goldwyn Films were all in the running to acquire this sci-fi thriller.

Sundance 2010: Splice Object of Service Deal Bidding Battle

Which contract will win? Tune in here, fiends, to see how it all turns out.

- Heather Buckley

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