Domestic distributors will have a wide variety of choices at Cannes this year, from completed films in competition to packages that have begun production or are only at the script stage with loose commitments from filmmakers and stars. Most of the buyers I spoke to claim they are in no rush to bid up the joint, but the pace of buying usually depends on several variables.
Will Harvey be buying? Last year, Harvey Weinstein, coming off a Best Picture win for The King’s Speech, reloaded with awards-caliber films that included eventual Best Picture winner The Artist, as well as The Iron Lady, Lawless (which is in competition) and the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed The Master. TWC preempted the festival buying the Dustin Hoffman-directed Quartet already. The Weinstein Company comes in with a full slate for 2012, as do distributors like Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics and Focus Features. But all are looking for 2013 product. Some other variables: Will CBS Films, which made the big buy of last Toronto with Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, be aggressive here? They certainly took a step in that direction acquiring Ends Of The Earth just before the festival began. FilmDistrict is back after restaffing its executive roster following the exits of Bob and Jeanne Berney; will Peter Schlessel’s division be as hungry for product as last year, when it acquired Looper? And how will upstart distributors like Mickey Liddell’s LD Entertainment factor into the mix as that company looks to fill the pipeline? The final variable will be the element of surprise: after unveiling their intention to make Inside Llewyn Davis with no domestic distributor, will Joel and Ethan Coen walk away from Cannes with a deal?
Here are the titles most often mentioned by distributors:
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET–Director, Martin Scorsese. Cast, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler. Based on the story of Jordan Belfort and his rise and fall in the stocks game as he was done in by a hard partying lifestyle that left him broke and in jail for 22 months.
UNTITLED JAMES GRAY PROJECT–Director, James Gray. Cast, Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner. In 1920, two sisters immigrate to New York from Poland, but they get separated at Ellis Island because one falls ill. The other falls prey to prostitution, until a magician tries to save her from that fate.
SERENA–Director, Susanne Bier. Cast, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper. George Pemberton and his new bride, Serena, as they set out to depression-era North Carolina to create a timber empire. It doesn’t end well.
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS–Director, Joel & Ethan Coen. Cast, Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman. Folk musician Llewyn Davis is embittered over his subpar career during the 60s folk music scene in downtown New York.
TRACERS–Director, Daniel Benmayor. Cast, Taylor Lautner. An athletic bike messenger in debt to the mob finds his way into parkour.
ME AND YOU–Director, Bernardo Bertolucci. Cast, Tea Falco. A 14 yr-old with difficulties relating to his family and the world around him hides for a week in the basement of his house. His fragile and rebellious step-sister turns up and forces him to engage.
MUD–Director, Jeff Nichols. Cast, Michael Shannon, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon. A Stand By Me story focuses on a charismatic but dangerous fugitive named Mud, who forms a bond with a 14-year old determined to help him escape the law and bounty hunters.
THE PAPERBOY–Director, Lee Daniels. Cast, Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack, Nicole Kidman. Based on the Pete Dexter novel, a young man returns to his small Florida hometown to help his reporter brother uncover the truth about a man on death row.
MANIAC–Director, Franck Khalfoun. Cast, Elijah Wood. Frodo Baggins as serial killer?
THE WE AND THE I–Director, Michel Gondry. A group of schoolkids travel into the future by accident, and discover a machine that keeps them younger.
PHANTOM–Director, Todd Robinson. Cast, Ed Harris, David Duchovny, William Fichtner. A Soviet sub captain holds the world’s fate in his hand as he leads a covert mission that could lead to nuclear war.
ARTHUR NEWMAN, GOLF PRO–Director, Dante Ariola. Cast, Colin Firth, Emily Blunt. A man hates his job and his ex-wife and son hate him. So he stages his death and starts over as Arthur Newman. He meets a girl who is also trying to elude her past.
BYZANTIUM–Director, Neil Jordan. Cast, Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan. A mother and daughter, both vampires, form a deadly pact.
THE COMPANY YOU KEEP–Director, Robert Redford. Cast, Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Sam Elliot, Terrence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brit Marling, Stanley Tucci, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Susan Sarandon. A political activist underground for 30 years tries to escape capture and goes on the run to save his daughter while reconciling his own past.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS–Director, Mike Newell. Cast, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter. A young orphan is given a chance to rise from his humble beginnings thanks to a mysterious benefactor and tries to get the heiress he’s loved since childhood to love him back.
THE ICEMAN–Director, Ariel Vromen. Cast, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans. The true story of Richard Kuklinski, loving husband, devoted father, and notorious contract killer, believed to have killed more than 250 people between 1954 and 1985.
IMOGENE–-Director, Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini. Cast, Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon. A playwright stages a suicide in an attempt to win back her ex, only to wind up in the custody of her gambling-addict mother.
KILLING SEASON–Director, Mark Steven Johnson. Cast, Robert De Niro, John Travolta. Former wartime adversaries go mano a mano in the wilderness.
THE LONGEST WEEK–Director, Peter Glanz. Cast, Olivia Wilde, Jason Bateman, Billy Crudup. A wealthy and spoiled young man is cut off by his parents and moves in with an old friend, only to fall in love with his buddy’s girlfriend.
LOVELACE–Director, Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein. Cast, Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, James Franco, Sharon Stone, Chloe Sevigny, Chris Noth, Sarah Jessica Parker. The life story of Linda Lovelace, star of Deep Throat.
MARILYN’S FRAGMENTS–Director, Liz Garbus. Cast, Adrien Brody, Viola Davis, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti, F. Murray Abraham, Evan Rachel Wood, Linsday Lohan. A new look at iconic movie star Marilyn Monroe
MR. PIP –Director, Andrew Adamson. Cast, Hugh Laurie, Kerry Fox. In the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville during an ongoing war between soldiers and rebels over copper mining, a young girl becomes transfixed by the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations when it is read at school by the only white man in the village.
PASSION, Director, Brian De Palma. Cast, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams. A remake of the French film Love Crime, a woman fakes a breakdown to murder her boss, and is preyed on by her blackmailing assistant.
ROMEO AND JULIET–Director, Carlo Carlei. Cast, Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Paul Giamatti. The Shakespear classic.
UNTITLED FOUND FOOTAGE COMEDY–Director, Marlon Wayans, Mike Tiddes. Cast, Wayans, Essence Atkins. Paranormal Activity gets a good spoofing.
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP–Director, Rowan Joffe. Cast, Nicole Kidman. A woman unable to remember her life regains her memory and discovers everything she thought was true is a lie.
CALI–Director, Nick Cassavettes. Cast, Kristen Stewart. A couple fakes a snuff film and disappears, only to be forced into a return to save the girl’s younger sister.
CAN A SONG SAVE YOUR LIFE?–Director, John Carney. Cast, Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Hailee Steinfeld. After a couple moves to New York to pursue music careers, he dumps her for a recording contract, but she gets a second chance when a producer finds her singing in a local bar.
DARK PLACES–Director, Gilles Pacquet-Brenner. Cast, Amy Adams, Imogen Poots, Jay Baruchel. Adams plays Libby Day, who as a child watched her family get slaughtered. She’s forced to go through this trauma again.
DOM HEMINGWAY–Director, Richard Shepard. Cast, Jude Law. Back on the streets after years in prison, a London gangster tries to collect for keeping his mouth shut.
THE DOUBLE–Director, Richard Ayoade. Cast, Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska. A young man is driven to a break down by the appearance of a lookalike.
EMPEROR–Director, Peter Webber. Cast, Tommy Lee Jones, Matthew Fox. Post WWII tale in which General Douglas MacArthur and an aide are charged with deciding whether to execute Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal.
EMPIRE STATE–Dito Montiel. Cast, Liam Hemsworth, Dwayne Johnson. Story of the largest cash heist in U.S. history and the young man who pulled off the $15 million heist in 1982.
GRACE OF MONACO–Director, Olivier Dahan. Cast, Nicole Kidman. Grace Kelly transforms from Hollywood star to monarch by helping Prince Rainier III and France’s Charles De Gaulle settle a dispute over tax laws in the early 1960s.
HOW I LIVE NOW–Director, Kevin Macdonald. Cast, Saoirse Ronan. A 15 year New Yorker is sent for a summer with cousins in England, and falls in love with her cousin Edmund before their season is shattered by the outbreak of war.
KNIGHT OF CUPS–Director, Terrence Malick. Cast, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett. Two intersecting love triangles weaves a tale of sexual obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.
TO THE WONDER (formerly LAWLESS)–Director, Terrence Malick. Cast, Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurlyenko, Barry Pepper, Rachel Weisz. A romance about a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart.
MISSION: BLACKLIST–Director, Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire. Cast, Robert Pattinson. A young man tries to trap Saddam Hussein.
MOOD INDIGO–Director, Michel Gondry. Cast, Audrey Tautou. A woman suffers from an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs.
A MOST WANTED MAN–Director, Anton Corbijn. Cast, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Adaptation of John Le Carre novel about a Chechian Muslim who surfaces in Hamburg and is caught up in the war on terror.
THE NECESSARY DEATH OF CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN–Director, Fredrik Bond. Cast, Shia LeBoeuf. A young man’s dying mother persuades him to travel to Bucharest to find himself, and he gets caught up with criminals and a jealous husband.
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE–Director, Jim Jarmusch. Cast, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska. A centuries long love affair between two star crossed vampires.
OPEN GRAVE–Director, Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego. Cast, Sharlto Copley. A man wakes up in a pit full of dead bodies, and must figure out if he or one of his rescuers is the murderer.
PARANOIA–Director, Robert Luketic. Cast, Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Liam Hemsworth, Lucas Till, Richard Dreyfuss. A boss blackmails one of his young employees to spy on a rival.
PINNOCHIO 3D–Director, Guillermo del Toro. Animated retelling of the classic tale.
THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY–Director, Hossein Amini. Cast, Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac. A thriller centered on a con artist, his wife, and a stranger who try to flee a foreign country after one is caught up in the murder of a police officer.
THE INVISIBLE WOMAN–Director, Ralph Fiennes. Cast, Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas. A story of Charles Dickens’ secret mistress.