Every year at the Sundance Film Festival, there's one film that sneaks up on both audiences and critics alike, breaking through the rest of the pack to become the Biggest Sundance Hit. As of Monday, January 26, it would definitely seem that 2015's BSH will be "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" -- and the fact that (per Deadline) the film just sold to Fox Searchlight for a record-breaking $12 million pretty much proves that the buzz for this one will go way beyond this festival.
In fact, much of Park City was abuzz yesterday with news that "Me and Earl" was the subject of a bidding war, with heavy-hitters like Lionsgate and Focus Features trying their best to land the film -- which focuses on a high school student (Thomas Mann) who befriends a leukemia patient (Olivia Cooke) at the behest of his mother (Connie Britton) -- for distribution.
MTV News caught up with the director of the film, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, to find out what it's like to be the center of the year's hottest movie -- though given the fact that this all only started happening about 12 hours prior, he hasn't quite had time to process it all.
"It doesn’t feel real," Gomez-Rejon, who is largely known for directing some of the best episodes of "American Horror Story," said. "You feel like you’re a character in a scene from a TV show about a film at a festival. They very respectfully, as a courtesy, keep me in the loop [during negotiations], but I'm not involved in the deal-making side of it. They asked me what my concerns were, and my interests as far as creative, and how to handle the film with care and patience... It’s really not my job to negotiate."
It was Gomez-Rejon's job, however, to present the movie to the Sundance public at the Eccles theater on Sunday, which caused much more anxiety for the director that the actual bidding process.
"It was every emotion you could possibly imagine," he said. "I’d been so anxious and nervous leading up to the introduction of the film, that I thought I was going to die... I just assumed the worst was going to happen; that the projector was going to break, or someone’s phone was going to go off at the worst possible moment... but during the movie, I just kind of let go."
...And it's a good thing he did, since "Me and Earl" received a five-minute standing ovation, and almost instant Twitter-love from the critics as soon as the screening was over. Gomez-Rejon didn't really know about the great reviews pouring in -- or even the negotiations -- until the after-after party, and at that point, he says there were "a lot of tears" from his family, his friends, and the film's cast and crew. (Which also includes a mustache-less Nick Offerman, by the way.)
Now that Fox Searchlight has officially bought the rights to the film, the tears will belong to what should be a mainstream audience -- and all of those comparisons to "The Fault in our Stars" should hopefully help drive fans to the theater. Gomez-Rejon says he's aware of these comparisons, but doesn't necessarily think that fans should come to the theater looking for Hazel and Augustus 2.0.
"Ours really isn’t a love story, at all," he said. "It’s about a deep, deep friendship, and acceptance, and coming of age. But look, we can only wish for that kind of success."
"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" is currently screening at Sundance.