Toronto: Where Are The Film Deals?

Mike Fleming

Just as it did last year, the 2011 Toronto Film Festival has gotten off to a slow start on the acquisitions front. I spoke with many buyers after last night’s onslaught of acquisition title premieres, and the common feeling was these distributors need to fill slots in their schedules and they want to fall in love, but haven’t quite gotten there yet with most of these films. They had some reservations on just about all of the films they saw. These films will clearly find distribution homes, but the reaction means that deals will drag out because those distributors aren’t going to be posting large minimum guarantees, the way they did in Cannes.

Even the big sale of the festival so far, the Steve McQueen-directed NC-17 sex drama Shame, wasn’t a huge commitment for all the press hoopla that followed Deadline’s reveal that the film had sold to Fox Searchlight. I am hearing the deal was a mid-six figure minimum guarantee around $400,000, and a P&A commitment around $1.5 million. That sounds about right, because the filmmakers were most concerned with entering this year’s Oscar race to capitalize on the performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and ensuring that not a frame of the picture was changed. But it doesn’t sound like a wide release picture.

As for the wide release titles, they are going to sell, but it will be a struggle for sellers to get the dollars they want. I saw one of those titles that sit atop buyer lists last night. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was scripted by Simon Beaufoy, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The film is sophisticated, funny, timely and utterly charming, and I would be surprised if it isn’t snapped up by Monday or sooner. That film got the best reaction from the buyers I spoke with. The pace of auctioning has been complicated by the volume of premieres last night, including Rampart, Take This Waltz, The Oranges, the hockey comedy Goon and the Morgan Spurlock-directed documentary Comic-Con: A Fan’s Hope. Buyers had to make choices, and some were seeing films like Salmon this morning. I expect a flurry of deals toward the end of the festival, which is how it played out last year.

Since there’s little going on so far, you have time to notice things. Here are a few things I’ve noticed: Read More »

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Broadway Reels In ‘Big Fish’ As ‘Dexter’s Michael C. Hall Is Signing For Musical

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that Dexter star Michael C. Hall is negotiating to play the lead in Big Fish on Broadway next year. Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks, who produced the Tim Burton-directed film, are producing the musical stage adaptation. Susan … Read More »

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2011 Toronto: ‘Shame’ Will Start Dealmaking Flurry, But Buyers Wait To Be Blown Away

Mike Fleming

Last year’s Toronto Film Festival started slow for acquisitions, but finished with a flurry of modest distribution deals that served notice the specialty film business had finally pulled out of its nosedive. This year’s festival hasn’t started and … Read More »

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Focus Features In Talks With Jeb Brody For Production Prexy Post As John Lyons Exits

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: As John Lyons prepares to leave his production president post to focus on philanthropy, Focus Features top executives James Schamus and Andrew Karpen are in talks with Jeb Brody to replace him. Brody, who is currently president of production for producer/financer Vendome Pictures, is well regarded in the indie sphere. He was a producer of Sunshine Cleaning and was the executive producer of Little Miss Sunshine while he worked at Big Beach. Brody exec produced Vencome’s first two film productions, Source Code and Larry Crowne. Lyons made public his plan right after the Cannes Film Festival.

Lyons is leaving to devote more time to his pet project, the Edible Schoolyard/NYC. He is the founder and board chairman of the charity, which mixes his passion for the environment and growing food at the schools. He will oversee an expansion of the program to schools in the five New York boroughs, and he’ll also continue his work on the board of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Foundation, which is the national program for the Edible Schoolyard initative. He’s also on the board of GrowNYC, a non-profit that promotes environmental awareness and runs the city’s Greenmarket programs. Read More »

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Netflix Makes Pay Deal With Lionsgate UK As Streaming Company Prepares For UK Launch

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In a clear signal that Netflix is preparing for a major expansion into the UK, the streaming company has made what I believe to be its first content deal with a film company there. My sources tell me that … Read More »

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Relativity To Distribute Steven Soderbergh-Directed ‘Haywire’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Relativity Media will distribute Haywire, the Steven Soderbergh-directed action film that will get a Jan. 20, 2012 release date. Though Relativity Media financed the pic, it was originally going to be released domestically by Lionsgate. I’m told it was a … Read More »

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Ultimate Bond Girl Eva Green Gets ‘Dark Shadows’ Lead

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Eva Green has landed the female lead in Dark Shadows, the Tim Burton-directed adaptation of the 60s supernatural TV soap opera for Warner Bros. Green, who made a most memorable impression when she broke James Bond’s heart in Casino Read More »

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Polanski Sweeps European Film Awards

The Ghost Writer has won 6 European Film Academy awards, the European equivalent of the Oscars, this evening in Tallinn, Estonia. Polanski’s thriller won Best European Film, while Polanski picked up Best Director and shared the screenwriting award with co-author … Read More »

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Roman Polanski’s ‘Ghost Writer’ Leads European Film Award Nominations

By | Saturday November 6, 2010 @ 9:17am PDT

Roman Polanski’s thriller has been nominated for 7 European Film Awards including best European film, director, actor (Ewan McGregor), screenwriter, editor, production design and composer. Other leading nominees are Samuel Maoz’s Lebanon with 5 nods and Semih Kaplanoğlu’s Honey with 3. This year’s European Film Awards will take place in … Read More »

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‘Orphanage’ Helmer J.A. Bayona To CAA

Mike Fleming

Juan Antonio Bayona, who made his directing debut with the Spanish language pic The Orphanage, has signed with CAA. He’d been repped by WME. Bayona starts production today on his first English language film, The Impossible, a drama that stars … Read More »

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Sony UK Acquires ‘Jackboots On Whitehall’

By | Friday September 24, 2010 @ 11:12pm PDT

The studio’s home entertainment arm has picked up UK rights to the WWII satire. Vertigo Films will release the puppet cartoon theatrically on October 8th. Ewan McGregor voices the hero with Rosamund Pike, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Merchant, Alan Cumming, Richard E Grant, Timothy Spall, Dominic West, Richard Griffiths, Richard O’Brien … Read More »

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TORONTO: Focus Buys ‘Beginners’ From Mike Mills Starring Ewan McGregor

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Here’s the latest of what deal makers are calling an unprecedented volume of distribution pacts for Toronto International Film Festival fare: Focus Features has acquired distribution rights to Beginners, the film that writer/director Mike Mills unveiled on September 11th. Focus acquired worldwide rights, excluding Canada, France, Australia, Scandinavia and Benelux. The deal was brokered by UTA Independent Film Group, which packaged the film. I’m told the big part of the deal is a P&A commitment of around $2 million, with a generous gross corridor for the filmmakers. There were five other offers on the table for domestic distribution. Read More »

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Jim Carrey Film ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ Finds Buyer And Gets December 3 Release

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Roadside Attractions and Liddell Entertainment have acquired U.S. and Canadian rights to I Love You Phillip Morris. Written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the fact based film stars Jim Carrey as a married conman who falls … Read More »

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Egyptian Actor Joins ‘Salmon Fishing’ Cast

Syriana’s Amr Waked will play the Yemeni Sheikh who comes up with the barmy idea of trying to stock salmon in the desert. Salmon Fishing In the Yemen stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas. Shooting starts today … Read More »

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David Mackenzie Shoots Guerrilla Rom-Com

By | Tuesday July 13, 2010 @ 3:52am PDT

Luke_TreadawayThe Young Adam and Hallam Foe director has just wrapped shooting a romantic comedy on the fly at Glasgow’s T In the Park rock festival. The movie stars Luke Treadaway (Clash of the Titans) as the lead singer of an indie … Read More »

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