Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE FROM TORONTO: While distribution deals for some Toronto-premiered films percolate slowly, distributors continue to lock down films that premiere at earlier festivals. Anchor Bay Films has acquired distribution rights to Meet Monica Velour, a comedy that stars Kim Cattrall, Brian Dennehy and newcomer Dustin Ingram. It played at the Seattle and Tribeca festivals. Pic was written and directed by Keith Bearden and financed/produced by Gary Gilbert’s Gilbert Films.

When a young man sets out to find his favorite 80s porn star, instead of a fantasy sexpot he  finds a 49-year old mom living in a trailer park and complicates her difficult life by trying to get close to her. The role is far less glamorous than Cattrall’s Sex and the City turns and her performance was lauded for the actress’ lack of vanity. The deal was made by Anchor Bay’s exec veep of acquisitions Kevin Kasha and prexy Bill Clark.

Anchor Bay Films is among the players stepping up to fill the specialty film void created by the studio exodus. Each has a different strategy and the Starz-owned Anchor Bay has the benefit of backing and a DVD distribution arm solid enough that it became an acquisition target for some of the Miramax suitors that needed a company to handle the library. The company has gotten more aggressive on acquisitions, its selling point a multi-platform program that begins with limited theatrical window. The company scored with City Island — a low-seven figure investment for acquisition and P&A  yielded a $6.8 million gross — and Solitary Man, which premiered at the last Toronto and grossed near $5 million on a total investment of around $2 million. Both titles performed strongly on DVD. Anchor Bay Films recently stepped up and acquired Happythankyoumoreplease, the Josh Radnor-directed film that was originally acquired by Hannover House after its Sundance premiere, where the picture won the Audience Award. The picture was pulled back—Hannover House seemed to lose its enthusiasm for specialty films when the $5 million budget film Twelve grossed less than $200,000—and Anchor Bay plans a 2011 release, said Kasha. Anchor Bay also remade the infamous horror film I Spit On Your Grave–a small theatrical release around Halloween is eyed–and the company just acquired the vidgame film Tekken to be released next year.

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