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Paging Mr. Bill Murray: Toronto Wants To Honor You With ‘St Vincent’ Gala, But Cannot Find You

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 10:13am PDT
Mike Fleming

Paging Mr. Bill Murray: Toronto Wants To Honor You With ‘St Vincent’ Gala, But Cannot Find YouTo a distributor launching a prestige film in the fall, a berth in the first weekend of the Toronto Film Festival is like finding a Golden Ticket in a Wonka Bar. Toronto organizers want to do just that for the Ted Melfi-directed comedy St Vincent before its October 24 bow, and they also want to turn the premiere into a celebration honoring the work of its star, Bill Murray. Here’s the challenge: Nobody has been able to get hold of him. He has no agent, he’s got an attorney who’ll try to reach Murray, but even that is a problem because he apparently doesn’t have a cell phone. If this sounds far fetched, remember that Sony held up its Ghostbusters relaunch plans for about two years, waiting and hoping Murray would read the script and sign on (it’s unclear if he ever read it, but the studio got the message that he wasn’t interested in ghost busting and finally moved on). This St. Vincent is an exceptional project, and it’s a tour de force for Murray.

Related: Weinstein Co. Lands Bill Murray’s Next Film, ‘St. Vincent De Van Nuys’

billm__121120012707Melfi wrote it with input from Jack Nicholson, and when that iconic star said he just didn’t want to work anymore, he suggested Melfi chase Murray. I wrote in depth about how elusive Murray was, and then how spectacularly generous and engaged he became when he read Melfi’s script and sparked … Read More »

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Toronto Adds Kevin Smith’s ‘Tusk’, Frederick Wiseman & Ethan Hawke Docus; Vanguard & Midnight Madness Lineups

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 8:59am PDT

Toronto Adds Kevin Smith’s ‘Tusk’, Frederick Wiseman & Ethan Hawke Docus; Vanguard & Midnight Madness LineupsUPDATED: The Toronto Film Festival announced several additions to the 2014 lineup this morning including the documentary pics and the lineups for The Masters, Vanguard and Midnight Madness. The docu lineup features pioneers of BASE jumping in Sunshine Superman; Los Angeles sex workers in Tales Of The Grim Sleeper; survivors of the Indonesian genocide in The Look Of Silence; and, in Red Army, a hockey captain’s transition from national hero to political enemy during the rise and fall of the Soviet game.

Tusk 1The Midnight Madness section includes the world premiere of Kevin Smith’s Tusk, the wacky horror thriller that dropped its first trailer during Comic-Con. Set in the Canadian wilderness, it stars Justin Long as a podcaster who’s assigned to interview a mysterious seafarer (Michael Parks) who happens to have a strange obsession with walruses. Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez also star. The pic hits theaters just after the fest on September 19; the Toronto fest runs September 4-14.

Here are the sections announced today: Read More »

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Toronto Sets Robert Downey Jr’s ‘The Judge’ As Opening-Night Film

By | Friday July 25, 2014 @ 8:36am PDT

Toronto Sets Robert Downey Jr’s ‘The Judge’ As Opening-Night FilmThe Toronto Film Festival today revealed that David Dobkin’s The Judge will open the 2014 festival on Thursday, September 4. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton, the film had been announced as one of the fest’s Gala titles.

TIFF describes the film this way: Big-city lawyer Hank Palmer (Downey Jr.) returns to his childhood home where his estranged father (Duvall), the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth, and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.

Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Judge’

Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Jake Gyllenhaal In ‘Nightcrawler’

Hot Trailer: Jake Gyllenhaal In ‘Nightcrawler’“I believe that good things come to those who work their asses off,” Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Lou Bloom says in Nightcrawler. He’s the wide-eyed new kid on the scene of LA’s underground world of freelance crime tele-journalism, and he’ll do anything to get the shot and the story. To wit: Police are harassed and their cars chased and T-boned, amid other general mayhem. Rene Russo and Bill Paxton co-star in the directorial debut of The Bourne Legacy scribe Dan Gilroy, who also wrote the pic. Open Road acquired the thriller for about $4.5 million after a bidding war at Cannes, and it will hit theaters October 17 following its world premiere at Toronto. Check out the first trailer:

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Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp Sets U.S. Acquisitions Team In Time For Toronto

Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp Sets U.S. Acquisitions Team In Time For TorontoLuc Besson’s EuropaCorp has launched an LA-based acquisitions arm to be run by Federica Sainte-Rose. As Head of Worldwide Acquisitions she will report to EuropaCorp CEO, Christophe Lambert. Also joining the department is former FilmNation exec John Zois as Director of Worldwide Acquisitions. The move to create a new division is part of Europa’s deeper push into the domestic U.S. market. It follows Europa’s deal with Relativity under which it bought into a joint venture, Red, giving it access and better control of the distribution of its movies. At Cannes, the Euro studio also unveiled a five-year, $450M JPMorgan-led credit facility to fund production and P&A for a slate of eight English-language commercial films released through that jv. That was a few months after it hired Lisa Ellzey as EVP of U.S. Motion Picture Production. The new acquisitions team will focus on films for domestic distribution through Red, as well as multi-territory film rights including France. They’ll be on the ground in Toronto.

Prior to joining EuropaCorp, Sainte-Rose was part of Universal’s worldwide acquisitions team and previously was Head of Acquisitions for Studiocanal. Lambert said today, “We are excited to welcome this amazing acquisitions team to the studio. EuropaCorp is becoming a new distribution alternative for filmmakers, who will benefit from close interaction with world class acquisitions and production executives as well as a robust marketing and distribution infrastructure both domestically and internationally.”

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Toronto: What Oscar Clues Are Wrapped In Today’s Massive Announcement Of TIFF Films?

Pete Hammond

Toronto: What Oscar Clues Are Wrapped In Today’s Massive Announcement Of TIFF Films?Well, they are coming hot and heavy now. With Toronto International Film Festival announcing 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations this morning in what is really just the first wave of their upcoming lineup, and  on top on New York Film Festival’s confirmation of their Opening (Gone Girl), Centerpiece (Inherent Viceand Closing (Birdman), BFI London’s opener of The Imitation Game and Venice Film Festival’s opener (also Birdman)  the awards season landscape is starting to fill in a bit more significantly. Venice in fact will announce their entire lineup tomorrow but today’s TIFF list gives us some further clues as to how the Oscar game is being played on the fest circuit. Of course Telluride is another factor, but they won’t officially announce anything until their fest begins just before Labor Day weekend.

Robert-Downey-Jr_-and-Robert-Duvall-in-The-Judge-2014-Movie-Image-2-750x499One player that I hear won’t be going to Telluride this year,  or it seems Venice, is Warner Bros which has used both fests significantly in the past (Warners had Oscar winners Argo and Gravity at the past two Tellurides and Gravity opened Venice last year). But, as predicted here, they are going to Toronto in a BIG way with World Premieres of three of their Fall films, The JudgeThis Is Where I Leave You and The Good Lie. Will TIFF mean the launch of an Oscar campaign for the trio, or is it just an effective way of getting the most media bang for your buck in releasing these early Fall titles? Certainly The Judge would seem to have acting potential for … Read More »

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Toronto Film Fest Will Close With World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get Perches

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 8:40am PDT

Toronto Film Fest Will Close With World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get PerchesUPDATED, 8:40 AM: The 39th Toronto Film Festival, running September 4-14, will close with the world premiere of Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet, Rickman, Matthias Schoenaerts and Stanley Tucci. The opening-night film was not announced at this morning’s press conference.

Alan Rickman Kate WinsletA Little Chaos is the perfect closing-night film – it transports audiences to another time, another place, full of beauty, complexity, rivalry, politics and romance,” said Toronto artistic director Cameron Bailey. “Alan Rickman’s film will wind audiences up just as our festival is winding down.”

In this sumptuous historical drama Sabine De Barra (Winslet)  —  a landscaper with a taste for the unconventional — is invited to design one of the fountains at the Palace of Versailles. As she battles with the weather, the perilous rivalries at the court of Louis XIV and her own private demons, she finds herself drawn inescapably closer to the formality and enigma of the architect who hired her.

Of the 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations announced, the initial lineup includes 37 world premieres from directors including Noah Baumbach, Susanne Bier, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, David Dobkin, Philippe Falardeau, Mia Hansen-Løve, Ning Hao, François Ozon, Christian Petzold, Lone Scherfig and Chris Rock. Here’s the list: Read More »

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‘Gone Girl’s’ NYFF Announcement Fuels Fall Festival Oscar Season Speculation

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 10:25am PDT
Pete Hammond

‘Gone Girl’s’  NYFF Announcement Fuels Fall Festival Oscar Season SpeculationThough it is still only July – and the summer movie blockbuster season is still in full force – all eyes are turning to awards season as much-awaited announcements of the four big Fall movie festivals that signal the beginning of the Oscar race are starting to drop. Following last week’s news that Fox Searchlight and New Regency’s Birdman would be launching the Venice Film Festival on August 27th, comes official word today from the Film Society Of Lincoln Center that David Fincher’s Gone Girl from Searchlight’s parent 20th Century Fox and New Regency will be launching the 52nd New York Film Festival on  September 26th. This selection was absolutely no surprise as the NYFF is very Fincher-friendly and most recently opened their fest in 2010 with the director’s The Social Network. Also, 20th has a strong recent relationship with the NYFF as both last year’s Oscar flameout, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and 2012′s Life Of Pi also had major showcases there. This continues the trend. In what might be counted as the firstnyff review of the much-anticipated adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best seller starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, NYFF Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said: “Gone Girl  is so many things at once: sharp as a razor about many aspects of American life that have been untouched by movies, very tough and just as funny, brilliantly acted, and 100%  entertaining – a wild ride from start to finish. In short, a great … Read More »

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DeadlineNow: Film Fest Battle – Toronto V. Telluride (Video)

By | Thursday June 19, 2014 @ 4:51pm PDT
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Telluride Vs Toronto

Is Telluride trying to grab some of Toronto's glory or is the Colorado-based film festival quietly canvassing Hollywood for the bigger pics? Either way, it looks like things might be getting a little punchy between the two film festivals, as Deadline's Pete Hammond and Dominic Patten report.

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eOne Acquires Brendan Gleeson-Taylor Kitsch Comedy ‘The Grand Seduction’

By | Wednesday February 5, 2014 @ 10:50am PST

Taylor Kitsch Grand SeductionEntertainment One has picked up U.S. rights to TIFF comedy The Grand Seduction, starring Brendan Gleeson (The Guard) and Taylor Kitsch (Lone Survivor) in the tale of a small town that mobilizes to woo a fast-living doctor (Kitsch) to become a resident so they can qualify to host an economy-boosting petrochemical plant. Gleeson plays the unemployed fisherman leading the town campaign. Pic is helmed by Don McKellar and adapted by Michael Dowse and Ken Scott from Scott’s 2003 French-Canadian original, La Grande Seduction. eOne’s Mark Slone exec produced with Jeff Sackman and Joe Iacono. Roger Frappier and Barbara Doran produced. A summer theatrical release is in the works via eOne, which also has rights in Canada and the UK. Jeff Sackman negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers with eOne’s Richard Rapkowski.

Related: Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch Find ‘The Grand Seduction’

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Monterey Media Acquires Toronto WWII Thriller ‘Canopy’

By | Tuesday February 4, 2014 @ 11:41am PST

canopyAaron Wilson‘s World War II thriller Canopy has been acquired by monterey media, which is plotting a theatrical release for late spring/early summer. Set during the 1942 Japanese invasion of Singapore, Canopy tells the tale of an downed Australian fighter pilot (Khan Chittenden) and an injured Singaporean-Chinese resistance fighter (Mo Tzu-Yi) who find themselves stranded in the jungle and unite to survive against their common enemy. Australian-born writer-director Wilson inked with Paradigm following the pic’s debut in the Toronto Film Festival‘s Discovery section and has already filmed a companion film follow-up set 30 years after the events of Canopy. Odin’s Eye Entertainment’s Michael Favelle negotiated the deal with monterey media’s Scott Mansfield.

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Toronto Vs Telluride: Are These Top Festivals Already Preparing For Battle Over NEXT Season’s Oscar Contenders?

Pete Hammond

The old Toronto vs Telluride rivalry has reared its ugly head again after Indiewire’s Anne Thompson wrote yesterday (and others followed) that toronto international film festivalFestival Director Cameron Bailey told her last Fall that they would enforce an ironclad rule that any films playing the Toronto International Film Festival’s first four days would have to be World or North American premieres. And that means “premiere” in the purest sense of the word. The World Premieres must be the first time the films are seen publicly anywhere and North American means U.S., Canada and Mexico. Any others would not get slots until the first Monday (traditionally when the heat starts progressively diminishing). This is what TIFF is telling studios and distributors. It is clearly saber rattling towards Telluride which most recently debuted films like 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Prisoners before Toronto’s “official” World and North American Premieres.

Telluride, unlike Toronto, doesn’t reveal its schedule until the start of the Labor Day weekend fest  and does not label any of its films as “premieres”. Sometimes, as in the case of 12 Years and Prisoners they don’t even include them then, and try to serve them up as unannounced sneak previews during the course of the weekend. Gravity was coming from the Venice Film Festival opening night so that was not kept as a secret. Other Telluride pictures, first seen at the Cannes Film Festival in May, were Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and All Is Lost. They all skipped Toronto entirely after Telluride and headed to the New York Film Festival later in the month. Read More »

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‘Mandela’s’ Long Walk To Oscar Race: With Renewed Heat And A+ CinemaScore Now Was Rushing It To Make Toronto Fest A Misstep? (Video)

Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: When Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom had its World Premiere in early September at the mandela-movie-posterToronto International Film Festival, the critical reaction and audience buzz wasn’t exactly all what distributor The Weinstein Company was hoping for. The epic film, which chronicles the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela, was overshadowed by many other films including August: Osage County and Philomena from Weinstein itself. What was hoped to be a significant launch that would ignite Oscar talk instead left the prestige film back in the pack, a rare awards-season misstep for the Oscar-savvy company. For director Justin Chadwick it was a clear disappointment, and the Weinsteins now are second-guessing that decision to rush the film, essentially still a rough cut, into a high-profile Toronto slot before it was ready. Now that it is finished and won top notices last weekend from both the Los Angeles Times and NY Times as well as an A+ CinemaScore from first-night audiences, the director and Weinsteins are hoping to turn around the initial impressions out of Toronto (overall, it has a 58% fresh score at Rotten Tomatoes).

Related:
‘Mandela’ Breaks South Africa Box Office Record
Hot Trailer: ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’

This all underscores the fact that while festivals can be enormously important, they can also be full of landmines as the opening-night Read More »

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Adopt Films Acquires Oscar-Winner Caroline Link’s ‘Exit Marrakech’

Continuing its support of international art house fare, Adopt Films has acquired German drama Exit Marrakech. The film had its international premiere in Toronto and also screened at the Hamptons Film Festival. Director Caroline Link, whose 2001 film Nowhere In Africa won the Foreign Language Oscar, helmed the pic about the rapprochement of a father and son on a cathartic road trip throughout Morocco. Ulrich Tukur (The White Ribbon, The Lives Of Others) stars with newcomer Samuel Schneider. New York-based Adopt picked up all U.S. rights from ARRI Worldsales, which co-produced the film. It’s planning an early summer 2014 release. The company also recently acquired two foreign Oscar entries: Israeli thriller Bethlehem and Palestine drama Omar.

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Toronto Title ‘The Love Punch’ With Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson In Ketchup Deal

By | Thursday October 17, 2013 @ 2:51pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ketchup Entertainment acquired the romantic comedy The Love Punch with Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, Timothy Spall and Celia Imrie. The film, scripted and directed by Last Chance Harvey helmer Joel Hopkins, made its premiere at Toronto last month. Pic’s produced by Process Media’s Tim Perell and Nicola Usborne with Love Punch Limited’s Jean Charles Levy and Radar Films’ Clément Miserez. SND is co-producing, financing and handling worldwide distribution. Ketchup will release next year through Open Road Films. Brosnan and Thompson play a divorced couple whose pension is stolen by a ruthless businessman. They reunite to steal it back, and while they are racing around France, old passions arise. “The film is a perfect fit for the Ketchup slate, and typifies Ketchup’s commitment to ensure we can help bring high-quality independent entertainment to audiences in the US,” said Ketchup CEO Gareth West. Read More »

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IFC Acquires U.S. On ‘Lucky Them’

By | Wednesday October 9, 2013 @ 10:24am PDT
Mike Fleming

IFC Films acquired U.S. rights to Lucky Them, the Megan Griffiths-directed pic that stars Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church and Oliver Platt. Scripted by Emily Wachtel and Huck Botko, the pic premiered at Toronto last month. Collette plays an unconventional rock journalist who dates musicians and is assigned to explore her own pasts. It’s a cathartic assignment. IFC’s Arianna Bocco made the deal with Cinetic Media’s John Sloss.

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Toronto: Image Lands West Memphis 3 Pic ‘Devil’s Knot’ With Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon

Mike Fleming

Image Entertainment has acquired the Toronto title Devil’s Knot and will release it in second-quarter 2014. The Atom Egoyan-directed film stars Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Amy Ryan, Mireille Enos, and Stephen Moyer. Image’s Chief Acquisition Officer Bill Bromiley made the deal with CAA and WME on behalf of financier Worldview Entertainment. The film is the story of three teenagers accused of the brutal 1993 murder of three 8-year-old boys in Memphis, Ark. — two of them sentenced to life imprisonment and one to death even though there was not a shred of physical evidence. The film explores the lives of deeply misunderstood outsiders, their families and communities, and the hysterics that drove the trial. The conviction of the West Memphis 3 — Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley Jr, and Jason Baldwin — riled the American justice system, shocked a tightly knit religious town and outraged the nation. Pic is based on the Mara Leveritt book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three. Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson wrote the script and Boardman produced with Elizabeth Fowler, Richard Saperstein, Clark Peterson and Christopher Woodrow of Worldview Entertainment.

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RADiUS- TWC, Dimension Acquire Daniel Radcliffe Toronto Thriller ‘Horns’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In what might well be the last major deal for a buzz title that world premiered at last month’s Toronto Film Festival, Dimension and RADiUS-TWC have acquired U.S. rights to Horns, the Alexandre Aja-directed thriller that stars Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Kelli Garner, Heather Graham, David Morse, Kathleen Quinlan and James Remar. The deal was for multiple millions, rivaling the largest deals made for the other Toronto films.

Keith Bunin wrote the script, based on the novel by comic book author Joe Hill. The logline: After being blamed for the death of his longtime girlfriend (Temple), a small-town guy (Radcliffe) awakens one morning to find a pair of horns growing from his head. The film was produced by Red Granite Pictures founders and producing partners Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland in addition to Mandalay’s Cathy Shulman. Aja is also a producer.

Dimension chief Bob Weinstein and RADiUS-TWC co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego have been working on this deal since the festival. It was certainly a talked-up title that several distributors pursued. They haven’t figured out the release configuration but are looking at 2014. Read More »

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‘Tom Of Finland’ Helmer Dome Karukoski Signs With ICM Partners

By | Friday September 27, 2013 @ 1:36pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: It was a good Toronto Film Festival for Finnish helmer Dome Karukoski. His Heart Of A Lion premiered earlier this month at the fest, and during the run of the event he was tapped to make his English-language debut on Tom Of Finland. All of that action got the major agencies interested, and he just inked with ICM Partners. Heart Of A Lion, written by Aleksi Bardy, centers on the head of a gang of racist skinheads who finds himself questioning his personal prejudices and values after falling for a waitress whose son is of African descent. It bows next month in Karukoski’s native Finland. Tom Of Finland is the biopic of Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, who revolutionized the image of gay men, paved the way for greater tolerance and openness, and influenced designers like Tom Ford and Jean Paul Gaultier. Read More »

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