Joshua, Waitress Score Big Deals

Short of the Weinstein’s “Grace is Gone” buy for $4 million early on in the festival, the first several days of Sundance this year proved pretty tepid.

That all changed yesterday with a big upsurge in business thanks to three buys. Speciality arm Fox Searchlight landed two of the three, forking out large amounts for both high-profile projects.

They started with a $3.7 million deal acquiring virtually all worldwide rights (minus Canada) to the Omen-esque psychological thriller “Joshua”.

Directed by George Ratliff (“Hell House”), the story tells of a disturbed and disturbing child (Jacob Kogan) who slowly turns the life of his family (Sam Rockwell & “Departed” actress Vera Farmiga) upside down.

Several hours later came the biggest buy yet of the fest – an amount between $4-5 million being cited for worldwide rights to Adrienne Shelly’s final film “Waitress”

The film stars Keri Russell in the title role of a poor Southern woman trapped in a bad marriage who finds true love when a new gynecologist comes to town. Jeremy Sisto, Cheryl Hines, Nathan Fillion and Andy Griffith also star.

It’s the third and final feature from the slain writer/director, who was murdered in her New York apartment in early November.

Both films are scheduled for release later this year.