The word from three well-placed distribution execs — one here, two from Manhattan — is that Fox Searchlight closed a deal last night with Summit Entertainment’s Patrick Wachsberger for domestic distribution rights to John Carney‘s Once. Naturally, neither Fox Searchlight nor Wachsberger is confirming — they’d rather give the story to Variety.

It sure as hell sounds true. “I heard Fox Searchlight, but that’s all I know,” a guy told me an hour ago. Do you know how much the deal was for? “No,” he said. When did you hear? “Last night.” Another top exec also said that “the deal closed last night — I heard it was Fox Searchlight or Sony Pictures Classics.” I called SPC right after this and was told by another highly-placed person that “we haven’t bought anything since before Sundance.”

I know that Thinkfilm and First Look were in negotiations earlier this week, and that one bid was in the vicinity of $500,000. One of the disappointed bidders just told me that “they” — Fox Searchlight — “were at $600,000. We lost it because of their significant pay deal….shit!”