The first official hit film of the Sundance Film Festival, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, sparked a heated bidding war on Saturday (21JAN06) before selling for a record $10.5 million (GBP8.5 million).

The low budget independent film stars Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette and Steve Carell.

Little Miss Sunshine closed to a standing ovation on Friday night (20JAN06) and kicked off a marathon negotiating session that lasted until 7:30am on Saturday morning - as movie studios executives competed to win worldwide distribution rights.

In the movie, Australian actress Collette plays the mother of a seven-year-old beauty pageant contestant travelling to a competition with her suicidal brother (Carell), self-help-obsessed husband (Kinnear) and drug-abusing dad (Alan Arkin).

Fox Searchlight emerged the winner and plans to release the film later this summer (06).

The previous record for a film bought at Sundance - $10.25 million (GBP8.3 million) - was set by HAPPY, TEXAS in 1999. The film starred Steve Zahn and Jeremy Northam as convicts who masquerade as beauty pageant experts.