What are the commercial English-language titles coming out of the US right now' Jeremy Kay has the lowdown.
The US financial meltdown, coupled with ongoing logistical difficulties caused by punishing exchange rates and the possibility of an actors strike by the end of November have traumatised the US production sector.
The threat of imminent industrial action has put a stranglehold on the US majors, although independent productions are largely protected by Screen Actors Guild waivers. Economic uncertainty does not discriminate, however, and has created a de facto freeze on lending by the banks.
It has never been easy for smaller films - as evidenced by the closure of Warner Independent, Picturehouse, New Line and ThinkFilm this year - and in a notoriously risk-averse industry, now more than ever those independents without the backing of huge corporate parents must adopt prudent and robust financing models to survive. But it is not all doom and gloom. Equity players find themselves in a strong position as an alternative source of funding, although they will want to be reassured they will see a return on their investment.
"There's been over-supply in the independent sector and that will clear out," says Bold Films co-president Gary Michael Walters. "There will be fewer movies but they will most likely be a little bigger and more commercial. In scary times, people want entertainment."
Scary times also herald fresh opportunities and the dynamic acquisitions and production landscape could create a platform at AFM for the newish distributors such as Overture, Summit, Vivendi and CBS Films, on the hunt particularly for completed projects. Two highly regarded executives, the acquisitions, production and marketing veteran Bob Berney and international sales expert Glen Basner, are expected to announce new ventures imminently.
Mandate International will commence sales on a trio of titles from Relativity Media, which retains domestic rights. George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges and Ewan McGregor star in Grant Heslov's Men Who Stare At Goats, a comedy based on a screenplay developed by BBC Films about paranormal experiments undertaken by the US Army. The action adventure War Of Gods to be directed by Tarsem Singh recounts the adventures of the ancient Greek hero Theseus and is being produced by 300's Gianni Nunnari and Mark Canton with Relativity's Ryan Kavanaugh. The supernatural thriller Season Of The Witch stars Nicolas Cage as a 14th century knight who escorts a suspected witch across Europe. Gone In Sixty Seconds director Dominic Sena reunites with Cage.
Paramount Vantage has 13, Gela Babluani's remake of his original French crime thriller 13 (Tzameti) about a Russian-roulette tournament. Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Sam Riley and 50 Cent will star and production is scheduled to begin around New York City in November. Vantage is also showcasing Nothing Like The Holidays, a comedy about an eventful Christmas family reunion that stars John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodriguez, Debra Messing, Elizabeth Pena, Alfred Molina and Luis Guzman and will open in North America through Overture Films on December 12.
Voltage Pictures will be talking up Seventh Moon, a completed horror tale from The Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sanchez in which US honeymooners fall foul of evil Chinese spirits. Cinetic is handling North American sales.
IM Global will commence sales on the relationship drama A Single Man starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Jamie Bell, Matthew Goode and Lee Pace. US fashion designer Tom Ford makes his directorial debut and filming is set to begin in Los Angeles on November 3. The company is now offering theatrical rights on DreamWorks' horror title Paranormal Activity - which Paramount will release in early 2009 - and has arranged a one-off screening for buyers on November 6. IM Global will also screen 3D footage at its booth from the completed animated fantasy adventure Battle For Terra, voiced by Evan Rachel Wood and Brian Cox, among others.
Summit International has acquired international sales rights to The Book Of Eli, Albert and Allen Hughes' first feature for seven years. Denzel Washington stars in and co-produces the story of a lone warrior in a post-apocalyptic America who holds the key to society's redemption. Warner Bros has domestic rights. Summit also has worldwide rights to the horror remake Sorority Row starring Jamie Chung, Rumer Willis and Carrie Fisher, about a group of girls whose murderous prank returns to haunt them during their graduation party.
Kimmel International will be showcasing the comedy Paper Man starring Jeff Daniels as a failed author who bonds with a teenage girl, much to the chagrin of his wife and imaginary superhero friend. Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone and Lisa Kudrow co-star and CAA and UTA hold domestic rights.
Essential Entertainment will begin sales on the Clive Barker horror adaptation Dread, which stars Twilight cast member Jackson Rathbone and tells of students making a documentary about people's fears. Production is underway in the UK.
Odd Lot International arrives with The Haunting Of Molly Hartley, a supernatural thriller set in a girls' school starring Chace Crawford and Haley Bennett that Freestyle Releasing will distribute domestically.
GK Films has worldwide rights to the BBC mini-series adaptation Edge Of Darkness, which Martin Campbell is shooting in Massachusetts. Mel Gibson stars in the thriller as a homicide detective who searches for answers to his daughter's murder and encounters corporate cover-ups and government collusion. Ray Winstone and Bojana Novakovic also star.
The Film Department will be tempting buyers with The Beautiful And The Damned, Nick Cassavetes' version of the untold story of Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald's passionate life. Keira Knightley is in talks to star.
Bold Films International arrives with worldwide rights to thriller The Hole from the renowned genre director Joe Dante that stars Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett and Teri Polo.
Lightning Entertainment will be talking up the crime drama La Linea starring Ray Liotta as an assassin on the trail of a cartel boss in the Mexican border town of Tijuana. Andy Garcia and Esai Morales add menace as the villains. AV Pictures has The Ministers, a completed thriller with Harvey Keitel and John Leguizamo, while North By Northwest Entertainment sells the sexy comedy Finding Bliss starring Leelee Sobieski as an aspiring film-maker who takes a job editing porn to pay the bills. Cinamour Entertainment has domestic rights.
Fledgling T&C Pictures International is launching with Animals, a completed adaptation of Craig Spector's horror novel about a small-town man who encounters a pair of lethal shape-shifting animals. Naveen Andrews, Eva Amurri, Nicki Aycox and Mark Blucas star.
Blowtorch Entertainment will be at the AFM with Tenure, a comedy about a laconic professor who competes with an ambitious PhD student for tenure at a college. Luke Wilson, Gretchen Mol and David Koechner star. Alan Mehrez and Aileen Rodriguez's new production, financing and sales house Byzantium arrives with a live-action adaptation of Aladdin partially financed through an Abu Dhabi film fund and set to shoot in Cairo.
Principal photography is set to start in Cape Town and London on January 15, 2009 on Cinema Management Group's $11m epic love story Heaven And Earth starring Natascha McElhone and James Purefoy. Marleen Gorris directs the 19th-century tale of a brilliant British Army doctor in South Africa who disguises herself as a man and falls for the British governor of the cape colony.
Myriad Pictures has the thriller Breaking The Girl with Michelle Trachtenberg attached to star in a story of two students who each make a pact to kill off the other's nemesis. Jamie Babbit directs and production is set to begin in Canada in spring 2009.
Shoreline will offer Wushu Warrior, a martial-arts drama set in the 19th century which just wrapped in China about a man's mission of revenge against a tyrant.
Inferno will commence sales on psychological thriller The Experiment, a remake of Oliver Hirschbiegel's 2001 thriller Das Experiment about a prison simulation that runs out of control. Paul T Scheuring, creator of Fox TV's Prison Break, is directing.
Focus Features International is set to begin sales on Ang Lee's comedy Taking Woodstock, a true story about an interior designer who stepped in at the eleventh hour to save the Woodstock concert after a permit refusal. Production in upstate New York is due to wrap imminently. Focus is also handling Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Biutiful, starring Javier Bardem. CAA has domestic rights to the project which is now shooting in Spain and Mexico.
The Weinstein Company will be talking to buyers about Extreme Movie, a teen sex comedy starring white-hot Michael Cera along with Jamie Kennedy and Frankie Muniz. Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobsen direct.
New sales chief David Glasser will also be showing first footage from Mikael Hafstrom's spy thriller Shanghai starring John Cusack, Gong Li and Ken Watanabe.
Fortissimo Films is selling two US titles this AFM: Jonathan Demme's Bob Marley documentary, and Peter Callahan's Against The Current, starring Joseph Fiennes.