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Toronto: Imogene sells as buyers remain cautious

UPDATE: The second major on-site deal at Toronto concluded on Monday (10) as Lionsgate acquired Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s comedy starring Kristen Wiig.

Lionsgate and partner company Roadside Attractions will distribute the story about a disillusioned playwright who fakes her own suicide and winds up being taken in by her estranged mother.

Imogene is the first film from Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler’s Maven Pictures label. Alix Madigan and Mark Amin also produced and Wiig, screenwriter Michelle Morgan, Steve Golin and Miranda Bailey served as executive producers. Jason Constantine and Kowan negotiated the deal with UTA Independent Film Group. Voltage Pictures handles international sales.

Four days into Toronto and deals were still slow out of the traps due to the intricacies of the post-crash landscape, intensified by what buyers privately concede have been unrealistic asking prices and ongoing concern over the dismal US box office.

At time of writing acquisitions teams were weighing up the Colin Firth-Emily Blunt drama Arthur Newman as the domestic sector waited for the third domestic deal.

On Sunday morning Focus Features, in aggressive mode to bulk up its 2013 slate, paid around $2.5m for US rights to The Place Beyond The Pines. On Monday afternoon Roadside Attractions bought US rights to Sarah Polley’s documentary Stories We Tell.

A deal on Thanks For Sharing was believed to be imminent. Similarly, buyers were buzzing around Frances Ha and What Maisie Knew. Writers earned fans, although a perceived saccharine tone had some buyers walking out of screenings.

Annapurna has been in talks with distributors about Spring Breakers after Megan Ellison’s company paid in the region of $2m for US rights on the eve of the festival.

Byzantium has drawn interest and anticipation was rising in advance of Monday night’s premiere of The Lords Of Salem. Monday also marked the first time many US buyers would get to see the Venice duo of To The Wonder from Terrence Malick and Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman.

As buyers and sellers continue their two-step, new players have emerged. Exclusive Media finally unveiled Exclusive Releasing and p+a fund Outsource Media was meeting distributors after it revealed a North American rights buy on Mike Newell’s Great Expectations.

Several ambitious financiers have begun to show their hand. Christopher Woodrow and Molly Conners’ Worldview Entertainment has invested in The Green Inferno, Joe and The Sacrament, while Kevin Frake’s Palmstar and Raj Singh’s Merced Media Partners are raising their profile.

Not surprisingly for Toronto, the international scene has been steady if unspectacular. “People are showing footage and buyers are watching completed movies,” Aldamisa International COO Jere Hausfater said. “The talk is about new product at AFM.”

 

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