2ND UPDATE, 7:03 PM PT: Paramount has confirmed Deadline’s earlier scoop, saying in a press release that the studio has picked up the Amy Adams sci-fi pic Story Of Your Life. It was the first big auction at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Read the full release at the bottom of the original post.
UPDATE, 4:29 PM PT: It’s all over but the press release as Paramount has prevailed in the first big auction on the ground at the Cannes Film Festival. The studio is paying $20 million for U.S. and Canada on Story Of Your Life, and there is discussion about China as well. This is a clear record deal brokered by Lava Bear’s David Linde with WME Global’s Graham Taylor and FilmNation’s Glen Basner. The latter was also in the middle of the $7 million Berlin deal with TWC for The Imitation Game, which was a record setter for that festival. So forgive these guys if they are strutting big on the Croisette today. This certainly marks an outstanding start for the Cannes market, as distributors clearly need product and are willing to spend if it’s good stuff. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from her Oscar-nominated performance in American Hustle, Amy Adams is in early talks to team with Prisoners helmer Denis Villeneuve on Story Of Your Life, the sci-fi thriller based on a short story by Ted Chiang, a top contemporary author in the genre. Scripted by Eric Heisserer, the thriller takes place after alien crafts land around the world. An expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. As she learns to communicate with the aliens, she begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that become the key to unlocking the greater mystery about the true purpose of their visit. It would be a departure for both Adams and Villeneuve, who broke through with Incendies. Read More »
Jake Gyllenhaal re-teams with his Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve in Enemy, a psychosexual thriller about a self-loathing university lecturer who spots his doppelganger, an actor, in a movie; he tracks down the man and the two engage in a spiraling struggle from which only one will survive. Gyllenhaal plays dual roles in the pic, which was shot before 2013 awards drama Prisoners. Melanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon co-star. Enemy is adapted by Javier Gullón from José Saramago’s 2002 novel The Double and will be released by A24 on March 14:
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off helming the kidnap thriller Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve is circling Sicario, a Taylor Sheridan-scripted drama that is fast coming together with Black Label financing, and producing with Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road. Black Label is the finance/production company formed by Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill. Just as Villeneuve’s films Prisoners and especially Incendies presented thrillers with complex moral dilemmas and shocking conclusions, Sicario presents a similar opportunity for the filmmaker. It focuses on the murky legal loophole that allows mercenaries to breach the border of Mexico to corral drug kingpins, as long as they are accompanied by a legitimate law officer. In this case, a female cop from Tucson accompanies two delta force-type rangers across the border to apprehend a drug lord. Once across the border, the cop finds she has stepped into No Country For Old Men terrain, with violence and depravity she never imagined. I’m told that distributors are sparked about this one, and that CAA will broker the domestic deal. The Canadian helmer is being courted for other films, but this certainly sounds like this is right in Villeneuve’s wheelhouse.
Related: Denis Villeneuve Inks Overall Deal With Alcon
EXCLUSIVE: The late night deal making continued in Toronto Thursday and as the dust clears, I’m told that A24 is in exclusive negotiations to acquire U.S. rights to Enemy, the Denis Villeneuve-directed drama that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Isabella Rossellini. It’s shaking out to be a low 7-figure deal with an aggressive rollout to take place sometime in the spring and following a pattern of prestige film successes like Spring Breakers, The Spectacular Now and The Bling Ring. Based on The Double by Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago, the film explores the troubled psyche of a man who is torn between his mistress and his wife. And then he discovers he has a double, and the other guy starts competing with him. WME Global is brokering the deal. This marks the third deal for upstart distributor A24, which bought the Tom Hardy-starrer Locke, and then the Scarlett Johansson-starrer Under The Skin.
It marks a strong festival for Villeneuve, who came here several years ago with his breakout film Incendies, and also got a strong reaction this week for his new film Prisoners, which stars Hugh Jackman, Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard and Paul Dano.
Denis Villeneuve‘s Prisoners broke out big-time on the Oscar-season radar over the weekend in Telluride, where his hostage drama starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal landed a sneak peak slot in the lineup. The Friday screening connected an upper-cut blow to the fest’s audience who reacted with strong applause and critical praise. Now the pic’s financier and producer Alcon Entertainment has locked up Villeneuve with a two-year overall deal for his writing and directing services just ahead of Prisoners‘ official premiere at Toronto on Friday. The agreement calls for a blind script commitment providing the French-Canadian director the time to both write and direct a feature project, with several ideas currently being pondered. Said Alcon co-founders Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove: “Our experience with Denis has been one of the most creative and satisfying of our careers. He’s truly one of the most insightful, artistic filmmakers working today. We believe he’s directed a tremendous film with Prisoners and are excited to partner with him on more projects going forward.” Dave Fierson, Head of Business Affairs and General Counsel, negotiated the deal on behalf of Alcon.
Villeneuve’s credits include the Oscar-nominated French-language pic Incendies, and he also directed the indie feature Enemy, also starring Gyllenhaal, which too will debut at Toronto. Warner Bros releases Prisoners — … Read More »
Also at the Telluride Film Festival picnic I ran into Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve and its producers, Alcon’s Andrew Kosove and Kira Davis. The trio were anxiously awaiting the festival’s reaction to their incredibly tense thriller. I had speculated pic would be a surprise entry here and indeed it as now been officially announced as one of Friday night’s screenings. (The festival also confirmed my earlier prediction that Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave will screen Friday, ratcheting up the Oscar-wattage considerably). I am told Prisoners stars Hugh Jackman is in Japan promoting The Wolverine and Jake Gyllenhaal is starting a new film and also couldn’t make the trek to Telluride. But both will be at the Toronto premiere next week along with the rest of the impressive cast. Villeneuve is no stranger to Telluride and was last here in 2010 for his Oscar-nominated Incendies.
Related: Telluride: Oscar Contenders Flock To Rockies As Festival Season Arrives
A Toronto International Film Festival that will be best remembered for the comeback of the independent acquisitions marketplace culminated today in festival awards. The Tom Hooper-directed The King’s Speech was awarded the Cadillac People’s Choice Award, which is the festival’s audience award, based on ballots collected after each screening. The picture, which stars Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, came in with The Weinstein Company as a distributor, and leaves the festival a bonafide Oscar season contender. Runner-up for the audience prize was the Justin Chadwick-directed First Grader.
The Prize of the International Critics for the Discovery program went to director Shawn Ku for Beautiful Boy, a searing drama that stars Michael Sheen and Maria Bello as estranged parents of a college student who goes on a murderous campus rampage before committing suicide. The parents go through stages of guilt and denial as they attempt to process an unimaginable tragedy. Said the jury: “This film shows its audience that in a world of chaos and insanity, humanity is the only key to life.”
Anchor Bay Films paid seven-figures for distribution rights in English-speaking territories last Wednesday following the film’s premiere. A P&A commitment is also part of the deal.
The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian Feature went to Denis Villeneuve for Incendies, a wrenching drama about immigration and war. The award carries a cash prize of $30,000 but more importantly for Villeneuve, … Read More »
TORONTO: While buyers are seeing films and showing interest in some titles, Monday was slow compared to Sunday’s blitz of 7-figure deals for Super and Dirty Girl. The only action so far today: Sony Pictures Classics acquired U.S. rights to Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, a film buyers saw at Venice and Telluride.