Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right Productions’ Elliot Abbott and S2BN Entertainment’s Michael Cohl are working on a trio of films.
* Oscar-winning Precious scribe Geoffrey Fletcher is scripting Attica, with Doug Liman attached to direct a look at the 1971 Attica state prison riot, the bloodiest prison uprising in U.S. history.
* Ed Lucas– Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel are scripting a film inspired by a true story in Sports Illustrated about a blind sports writer known for his work with the New York Yankees. Stanley Tucci is attached to play Lucas, a blind, single father.
* The Retaliator- Stan Lee and Gill Champion of POW! Entertainment hatch a new superhero. Chosen by the Ancients and awarded the powers of the elements, this once ordinary man must protect the Earth against those who abuse and destroy its ecosystem. Jim Hart and Jake Hart are writing.
Wild Bunch acquired overseas rights to Violet & Daisy, the directorial debut of Precious scribe Geoffrey Fletcher that was screened as a work in progress at Toronto. Wild Bunch will sell at AFM while CAA handles domestic rights. Fletcher wrote the script and produced with Bonnie Timmerman. The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel and James Gandolfini. John Penotti and James Skotchdople are producing. Ronan and Bledel play two teen assassins who face off against a series of adversaries, including a mysterious man (Gandolfini). Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Danny Trejo also star.
Was the 2011 Toronto Film Festival a good one for dealmaking? Even after organizers announced a 20% uptick in film deals last Friday (the festival includes foreign territories in its count), the sales kept coming. A long-expected deal with Lionsgate on the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids finally got done (in partnership with Roadside Attractions, which will actually release the film), and Music Box announced overnight it had acquired the Rachel Weisz-starrer The Deep Blue Sea. Lionsgate was hotly pursuing another film, the Midnight Madness sensation You’re Next, which of all the festival films seems to have the best chance of approaching the box office turned in by Toronto 2010’s breakout Insidious. There have been about 20 acquisitions so far and that many more could come in the next few weeks.
Still, can you call the Toronto acquisitions marketplace “solid” when no films have been bought so far by The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classics, Focus Features, or Fox Searchlight (yeah, I revealed that they bought Shame during Toronto, but it was a deal all but sealed in Venice), or for that matter FilmDistrict, Open Road or Relativity Media, each of which jumped into the distribution business to release films that can play on upwards of 2000 screens? Buyers and sellers said it was a pretty good festival at least. One filled with mostly small deals and a show of distributor discipline that is a positive sign for an indie film sector that just started pulling out of a nosedive this time last year. Read More »
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 already there are fireworks. Deadline broke news yesterday that Harvey Weinstein would start a VOD business, making the acquisitions market for fringe films more competitive; and last night, I heard that a bidding battle had already broken out for the Steve McQueen-directed Shame, which should be sold by the time it screens Sunday. Fox Searchlight is the favorite, Sony Pictures Classics is in the mix and I’ve heard that The Weinstein Company is hovering. Bidding began right after its Telluride screening, and the mid-six figures thrown around yesterday will probably go higher. That’s huge, considering the movie is an unabashed NC-17, McQueen has final cut, and the sex-obsessed protagonist is unlikable. Oh, yeah, and the sellers want it released this year for Oscar consideration to capitalize on Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan’s Oscar-caliber performances.
Does this mean we’re in for a drunken buying frenzy? Hardly, buyers tell me. They are eager to see the films, but say there’s no title here that’s going to guarantee somebody will overpay. They are also mindful that many of last year’s deals turned out to be box office busts. More deals will be made than … Read More »