Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE: Focus Features has confirmed Deadline’s scoop. Release is at the bottom of the story

UPDATE: I’m told that Focus Features indeed closed a distribution deal for one of Toronto’s hottest acquisition titles, the Derek Cianfrance-directed The Place Beyond The Pines. The negotiations between the Focus acquisition team and the sellers at WME and CAA went into the wee hours of the morning before the deal was made. I’m still trying to confirm the numbers, but it was a few million dollars commitment for a film that has gotten good reaction but which might need to be honed and trimmed a bit for maximum theatrical bang. The big question now is whether this will prime the pump and get the deal volume going. I’m hearing such good things about the acquisition titles that have screened so far that I’m going to say it is inevitable and that sellers and buyers have a lot of late night negotiations ahead of them over the next few days.

RELATED: Toronto: Insider Says No Weinstein Company Offer On ‘Place Beyond The Pines’

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, SATURDAY 9:17 PM: Focus Features has become the frontrunner and is in serious negotiations to acquire The Place Beyond The Pines, the Derek Cianfrance-directed drama that came into the Toronto Film Festival as one of the highest profile acquisition titles. I’m hearing that a deal could close by tomorrow morning. Focus was among several suitors that sparked to a film that stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta and Rose Byrne. Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt rider who considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop who is on a political track. CAA and WME have been brokering the sale together since the film premiered Friday at the Princess of Wales Theater.

I’m not surprised that the picture is selling quickly in Cianfrance’s follow up to the Sundance sensation Blue Valentine, also with Gosling. For Cooper, it’s the second strong performance here at the festival. I saw Silver Linings Playbook tonight, and Cooper is superb alongside equally good Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver and a scene stealing Chris Tucker in a David O Russell-directed film that will figure strongly in Oscar season.

As for the acquisitions, I expect the pace to pick up, with action on films like What Maisie Knew and several others.

TORONTO, September 9th, 2012 – U.S. rights to The Place Beyond the Pines, the
highly anticipated new drama from director Derek Cianfrance, starring Academy
Award nominee Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes, have been acquired
by Focus Features for a 2013 release. Focus CEO James Schamus and president
Andrew Karpen made the announcement today at the Toronto International Film
Festival, where the movie is having its world premiere.

Focus acquired the rights from Sidney Kimmel Entertainment (SKE), which financed
the movie and which was represented at Toronto by Jim Tauber and Nick Hanks,
with WME Global and Creative Artists Agency acting as sales agents.
International sales to the feature are being handled by Sierra/Affinity.

The Place Beyond the Pines was written by Mr. Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, and Darius
Marder. The movie was produced by Jamie Patricof and Lynette Howell through
their Electric City Entertainment, Alex Orlovsky through his Verisimilitude, and
SKE’s Sidney Kimmel; Mr. Patricof, Ms. Howell, and Mr. Orlovsky previously
produced the award-winning Blue Valentine, directed by Mr. Cianfrance and
starring Mr. Gosling and Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams. The new
movie’s executive producers are Mr. Tauber, Matt Berenson, and SKE’s Bruce Toll.

The film powerfully explores the consequences of motorcycle rider Luke (Mr.
Gosling)’s fateful decision to commit a crime to support his child. The incident
renders him targeted by policeman Avery (Mr. Cooper), and the two men become
locked on a tense collision course which will have a devastating impact on both
of their families in the years following.

The cast of The Place Beyond the Pines also includes Golden Globe Award nominee
Rose Byrne (Damages), Mahershala Ali (Treme), Emory Cohen (Smash), Dane DeHaan
(Chronicle), Gabe Fazio, Bruce Greenwood (Flight), Ray Liotta (Killing Them
Softly), Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises), and Harris Yulin (Scarface).

Mr. Schamus and Mr. Karpen said, “Derek Cianfrance has made a bold, epic, and
emotionally generous saga, once again showing a master’s hand in eliciting
searingly beautiful performances from the actors with whom he collaborates.”

Mr. Cianfrance commented, “The Focus team’s ability to work in partnership with
writers and directors is known and respected by the film community. Their
passion for this very personal project is why I know they are the right home for
our new movie.”

Mr. Tauber added, “Sidney Kimmel and I are convinced that the entire Focus team
understands the uniqueness of Derek’s bold and daring film, and that they
provide the perfect home for the filmmaking group.”