Deadline revealed during the festival that Lionsgate was bearing down on a deal to release the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids, in partnership with Roadside Attractions in a deal made by Cinetic and Red Granite. Lionsgate has just issued the press release:
SANTA MONICA, CA (September 21, 2011) – LIONSGATE® (NYSE: LGF), a leading global entertainment company today announced the acquisition of Red Granite Pictures’ FRIENDS WITH KIDS, directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, following its debut screenings at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The announcement was made jointly by Steve Beeks, Lionsgate’s President and co-COO, Joe Drake, co-COO and Motion Picture Group President, and Jason Constantine, President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions.
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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 »
EXCLUSIVE: Deadline’s Mike Fleming virtually called this deal on Tuesday (then delayed confirmation after sellers indicated that their auction wasn’t fully done). Now it’s official: Friends With Kids, the hot Toronto Film Festival romantic comedy co-starring Jennifer Westfeldt — which she directed, wrote and co-produced with longtime boyfriend Jon Hamm, who also has a supporting role — has indeed officially sold to Lionsgate. This according to Westfeldt, who broke the news to me at the late-night AMC Emmy celebration party, saying she herself learned halfway through Sunday night’s Emmy ceremony that the deal was done. “The sale just closed while the Emmys were going on — we’re thrilled,” she said, even while lamenting Hamm’s fourth consecutive loss in the Best Actor in a Drama Series category (Mad Men did win an unprecedented fourth Emmy for Drama Series). The sale certainly makes Hamm’s Emmy loss easier to take as Friends With Kids was one of the hottest titles in Toronto to still be available. Read More »
UPDATE: Sellers of Friends With Kids say I jumped the gun and their auction hasn’t concluded. I believe that Lionsgate is squarely in the mix, but they tell me others are still in it too and the outcome isn’t as certain as I’d heard last night for a deal that will be for U.S. only. Will update information as it develops.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: The deal logjam here is on the verge of clearing up. Word is rampant that Lionsgate is on the verge of tying down rights to the Jennifer Westfeldt-directed comedy Friends With Kids, with a deal worth upwards of $2 million for U.S. and five other territories. The ensemble comedy stars Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott as friends whose lives are altered when they start families. Cinetic and Red Granite are selling.
In another deal taking shape, Mickey Liddell is in talks to acquire rights to the William Friedkin-directed Killer Joe, the drama that made its Toronto debut Sunday. It is the first acquisition of the festival for Liddell, whose last year acquisitions included the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-directed Biutiful. Read More »