Fox Searchlight has just purchased theatrical distribution rights to Waitress, written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly (pictured at right), which premiered at Sundance yesterday. Variety's blog estimates a sales price of around $5 million, one of the larger deals made at Sundance this year. No details are available yet on release timelines or the extent of the rights purchased by Fox Searchlight (North American, worldwide, etc.).

was one of the more talked-about and anticipated films at Sundance this year because of Shelly, who died in early November shortly after wrapping up work on Waitress and submitting it to Sundance. While some had speculated that the death might have been by suicide, police uncovered evidence that led to an arrest on murder charges. Shelly had made a name for herself as an indie-film actress in Hal Hartley films such as the 1989 film The Unbelievable Truth, then later moved into filmmaking herself.

Shelly didn't take the lead acting role in Waitress, which stars Keri Russell (Felicity) as a pregnant waitress stuck in an abusive relationship who ends up having an affair with her doctor. She does appear in a supporting role as a co-worker of the titular character. At last night's screening of the film, Shelly's husband Andrew Ostoy announced the creation of an organization to help female independent filmmakers, the Adrienne Shelly Foundation.