Back at SXSW to premiere his 14th feature, Drinking Buddies writer-director Joe Swanberg brought something new to the festival: A movie with name stars, a polished look, and mainstream sales potential. The relationship comedy stars Tron: Legacy‘s Olivia Wilde and New Girl‘s Jake Johnson as a pair of Chicagoan craft brewery co-workers whose platonic friendship veers toward flirtation. Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick co-star as their respective significant others in the pic which marks Swanberg’s first modestly-budgeted (vs. micro-budgeted) feature.
Drinking Buddies has a more traditional look than Swanberg’s previous mumblecore releases thanks to Beasts Of The Southern Wild DP Ben Richardson. It was entirely improvised as the cast worked from Swanberg’s outline. “Putting dialogue in somebody else’s mouth has always seemed strange to me. The writing process shifted to the editing, so that’s when the script gets written”, Swanberg explained after Saturday’s premiere. Wilde, who was also in town to promote Warner Brothers’ SXSW opener The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, also executive produced the project and has been promoting it on Twitter. Johnson’s hot thanks to Fox’s New Girl and Kendrick’s coming off of Universal’s hit Pitch Perfect, adding more box office appeal.
A deal has yet to come but with the exception of Drafthouse Film’s pick-up of Cheap Thrills earlier today that’s par for the course at SXSW, where the buying climate is more laid back than it is at other market-driven fests. Specialty distributors caught the pic over the weekend. CAA is repping sales on behalf of the film, which was produced by Swanberg, Burn Later Productions’ Paul Bernon and Sam Slater, Andrea Roa, and Alicia Van Couvering. Stay tuned for movement on the sales side.