PARK CITY, Utah — Ludacris broke the biggest news yet to come out of Sundance midway through his performance at a packed club Sunday night.
“Let’s hear it for ‘Hustle & Flow,’ ” the rapper said of the hip-hop movie that brought him to the festival. “We made it for $2 million and just sold it for $9 million.”
The purchase, by Paramount Pictures and MTV Films, is the biggest in the film festival’s history. As part of the deal, producer John Singleton also pocketed a two-picture deal for $3.5 million each. Paramount and MTV, who passed on making the movie a few years ago, prompting Singleton to fund it himself, reportedly won a bidding war between five studios that started after the movie’s debut Saturday.
“All I had to hear was that John Singleton was doing a movie in the South — that’s it, I was down,” Ludacris said Monday morning (January 24).
In “Hustle & Flow,” Luda plays a dirty South rapper by the name of Skinny Black who inspires a pimp in his hometown to attempt a career change to hip-hop.
“This movie is so real to life, there’s no words that can explain,” he said. “You would think they was just filming somebody’s neighborhood.”
Terrence Howard (“Glitter,” “Ray”) earned a standing ovation Saturday for his portrayal of the pimp.
“I didn’t want to play a pimp because I’m a father,” Howard said. “I didn’t want to glorify that life. And Craig [Brewer, the director,] said, ‘That’s exactly why I want you to do it. These girls are not just pieces of trash you’re dealing with.’ And at that moment, [I began] thinking if I had to pimp my children, how would that affect me as a man?”
Newcomer Brewer wrote and directed the movie, which also stars Taryn Manning, Anthony Anderson and DJ Qualls.
“It was special for me because I’m from the South,” Qualls said. “I’m from Nashville, Craig’s from Memphis, and he wanted to depict the South how it really is. Races mingle and socioeconomic barriers aren’t there. Basically everybody’s poor, so that’s not an issue. I watched the movie and thought, ‘This is it. This is where I’m from.’ ”