Hot projects from US sellers include Ron Howard’s Formula 1 film Rush from Exclusive; Woody Allen’s next film from Focus Features International; Hyde Park’s Iraq-set action thriller Thunder Run; and many more.
Summit International is handling 12 Years A Slave, arguably the leading prestige title in the market. Red-hot UK film-maker Steve McQueen will reunite with his Shame star Michael Fassbender alongside Brad Pitt and Chiwetel Ejiofor. An outstanding potential showcase for the talented Ejiofor, the story is based on Solomon Northup’s novel about an educated man kidnapped from New York and sold into slavery in 1850s Louisiana. River Road is financing and will produce alongside Pitt’s Plan B, which developed the drama.
Focus Features International sales chief Alison Thompson should have no trouble enticing buyers with the all-star ensemble Nero Fiddled from the prolific Woody Allen, currently enjoying his biggest US hit with Midnight In Paris. The Gravier Productions film is the first Allen project to be financed by Italy’s Medusa; it wrapped production in Rome this summer. Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page and Allen himself star. Allen switched the title from The Bop Decameron last month because he felt audiences would not understand the reference to The Decameron by the Medieval Italian writer Boccaccio.
Exclusive Films International brings Rush to market. The drama about the 1970s rivalry between Formula 1 titans James Hunt and Niki Lauda marks director Ron Howard’s first foray into independent film-making in more than a quarter of a century. Howard has already begun shooting action footage and expects to start principal production in early 2012 in the UK and Germany. Thor’s Chris Hemsworth will play Hunt, the easygoing playboy and antithesis to the uber-intense but brilliant Lauda, who will be played by Daniel Brühl. Olivia Wilde also stars and Peter Morgan wrote the screenplay.
For Lionsgate, Spike Lee has cast Josh Brolin in the lead for his eagerly awaited English-language remake of Park Chan-wook’s Old Boy, the acclaimed South Korea tale of revenge. Roy Lee and Doug Davison will produce and Mandate president Nathan Kahane will handle executive producer duties. The Vertigo Entertainment/40 Acres & A Mule joint production is based on Mark Protosevich’s adapted screenplay about a man who seeks revenge after he was kidnapped and held captive for 15 years. Lionsgate’s slate also includes wartime thriller The Railway Man starring Colin Firth, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead remake and Diablo Cody’s upcoming feature directorial debut to star Russell Brand and Julianne Hough.
FilmNation Entertainment sold international rights on widely admired writer-director Jeff Nichols’ Cannes Critics Week winner Take Shelter and is back in business with the young US talent for Mud. Something of a change of pace for Nichols, Mud stars Matthew McConaughey as a fugitive who kindles a friendship with a teenage boy as he strives to hook up with his soulmate, played by Reese Witherspoon. FilmNation and Everest Entertainment are producing the film, shooting now in Arkansas. Lisa Maria Falcone, Sarah Green and FilmNation production chief Aaron Ryder are the producers. FilmNation will also co-represent domestic sales with CAA.
Sales veteran Jere Hausfater will be helping Dennis Rice’s Visio Entertainment sell Jock, a 3D animated family adventure from Jock Animation. Duncan MacNeillie directed the completed project from his screenplay about a young man and his fearless dog, based on Sir James Percy FitzPatrick’s novel Jock Of The Bushveld. Donald Sutherland narrates and the voice cast includes Helen Hunt, Bryan Adams, Ted Danson and a special cameo by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The project features original music from Tim Rice, Alan Menken, Johnny Clegg and Adams.
For seller Inferno, from the newly capitalised pockets of Emmett/Furla Films, comes crime noir Broken City starring Mark Wahlberg, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Russell Crowe. Allen Hughes will direct and Fox will distribute the story of a detective who uncovers corruption and intrigue when he investigates the mayor’s love life. Principal photography is due to begin imminently.
Hyde Park International will introduce buyers to Thunder Run. Gerard Butler, Sam Worthington and Matthew McConaughey will star in Freedom Films’ 3D action thriller based on Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent David Zucchino’s account of how US forces captured Baghdad in the early stages of the Iraq War. Simon West will direct and Freedom Films CEO Brian Presley produces with Carissa Buffel and Kevin Matusow and The Graphic Film Co’s Jib Polhemus. Freedom Films is represented by Jay Cohen of the Gersh Agency.
UTA Independent Film Group will be repping Hours, to star Paul Walker, who is hot off the $600m-plus global success of Fast & Furious 5. Walker will play a desperate father who fights to keep his newborn child alive in post-Katrina New Orleans. Eric Heisserer, who wrote Universal’s recent sci-fi release The Thing and Final Destination 5, penned the screenplay and will make his feature directorial debut. Peter Safran will produce though Safran Company, and is also financing the project. Production is being lined up in and around New Orleans for March 2012. UTA Independent Film Group packaged the project with Safran and is handling worldwide sales.
For Highland Film Group, Peter Gallagher, Marcia Gay Harden and Lucy Liu star in the completed Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You, about a vulnerable teenager with a deep insight into life yet no idea how to live it. Toby Regbo, Deborah Ann Woll, Aubrey Plaza, Ellen Burstyn and Stephen Lang round out the key cast. The Italian Ministry Of Finance, Rai Cinema, Four Of A Kind Productions and Jean Vigo Italia produced the US-Italy project, based on Peter Cameron’s novel of the same name. Roberto Faenza directs the film, which has its world premiere in Rome this week.
Indomina and Pinewood are financing comedy A Fantastic Fear Of Everything starring Simon Pegg, and will show first footage at the market. Pegg plays a paranoid crime writer forced to confront his demons. Musician-turned-filmmaker Crispian Mills wrote the screenplay and is co-directing with animator Chris Hopewell. Keep Films is producing. Indomina holds North American rights and Universal will release in the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. Indomina’s international sales division is handling sales on all remaining territories.
Nicolas Chartier of Voltage Pictures will use the AFM platform to talk up serial-killer thriller Frozen Ground, one of several titles now under the aegis of Emmett/Furla Films. The latter will fully finance the thriller, shooting now with John Cusack, Nicolas Cage and Vanessa Hudgens. Based on real events, Frozen Ground tells of the search for a seemingly respectable Alaskan man who kidnapped women, flew them to the wilderness and proceeded to hunt them down. Cage plays the state trooper who picks up one of the predator’s escaped victims and enlists her help to track down the killer. Scott Walker wrote the screenplay and will make his feature directorial debut. Voltage will also be pre-selling the Bin Laden thriller Code Name Geronimo; as well as Summer At Dog Dave’s with Morgan Freeman directed by Rob Reiner; and the comedy Imogene starring Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening and Matt Dillon.
Parlay Films is presenting rom-com A Little Something For Your Birthday, which stars Malin Akerman and James Marsden in the story of a fashion designer who struggles to find love after she reaches 30. Susan Walter wrote the screenplay and Michael Engler is directing. Steve Golin and Alix Madigan-Yorkin are producing. Parlay also has the UK-New Zealand project Cities to be directed by Roger Donaldson. The global thriller about greed and ambition has an all-star cast including Clive Owen, Kirsten Dunst, Orlando Bloom and Anil Kapoor. It is in pre-production for a 2012 shoot.
Content is handling Nothing To Fear, which Slash from Guns N’ Roses will produce through his Slasher Films. This horror story is about a family’s dark descent after opportunity knocks. Anthony Leonardi, a creature designer and storyboard artist who worked on the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise and Constantine, makes his feature directorial debut. The story is inspired by folklore surrounding the town of Stull in Kansas, believe to be one of the gateways to hell. Louisiana-based Upload Films will co-finance and co-produce with Slasher. Content’s slate also includes action thriller The Numbers Station with John Cusack and Malin Akerman.
Lightning Entertainment will offer the market premiere screening of Brake, the completed US project starring Stephen Dorff, Tom Berenger and Chyler Leigh. Walking West Entertainment’s thriller is directed by Gabe Torres and centres on a Secret Service operative kidnapped by terrorists and subjected to physical and psychological torture as his captors try to extract crucial information. Torres and James Walker are producing.
Ryan Kampe’s Visit Films has acquired international rights to the award-winning documentary First Position, which premiered recently in Toronto and was runner-up in the audience choice vote. First-time director Bess Kargman spent a year following six talented young ballet dancers en route to the Youth America Grand Prix contest.
Not so long ago the three enterprising young partners behind XYZ Films extended their remit to foreign sales through a strategic alliance with Celluloid Dreams. That alliance, Celluloid Nightmares, will be at AFM to sell Replicas, which stars Selma Blair and James D’Arcy as a couple whose vacation at their cottage getaway is interrupted by a violent family. Jeremy Power Regimbal is producing the Canadian production.
For HSI Films, Eric Christenson arrives with the intriguing comedy pairing of John Cusack and Johnny Knoxville in Carnaval, about a soccer scout sent on a high-stakes trip to Brazil where his best friend starts an affair with the girlfriend of a target player. Josh Stern will commence shooting in Rio in January. Stone Village is producing and financing and the company’s Scott Steindorff, Dylan Russell and Scott LaStaiti serve as producers. HSI CEO Steven Saxton will serve as an executive producer.
Myriad Pictures will be talking up the comedy Goon about a bar bouncer who becomes an enforcer for a lowly ice-hockey team. Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Liev Schreiber, Alison Pill and Eugene Levy star and Michael Dowse directed from Baruchel and Evan Goldberg’s script. Goon premiered in Toronto where it was snapped up by Magnet Releasing for US distribution. Jennifer Lynch’s Unchained is also on offer from Myriad.
Sales veteran Brian O’Shea resurfaces with a new company, The Exchange, and will commence talks on several titles, among them the thriller Magic Magic, which O’Shea co-represents with Spain’s 6 Sales. Sebastian Silva (The Maid) will direct the project starring rising talent Juno Temple, Michael Cera, Emily Browning and Catalina Sandino Moreno. Killer Films and Rip Cord are financing the story about a young woman who begins to unravel while on vacation in Chile.
Ed Noeltner’s Beverly Hills-based CMG will introduce Forks Over Knives to buyers, and in keeping with the film’s foodie theme, Noeltner is toying with the idea of staging a vegan dinner for buyers. Lee Fulkerson directed the documentary, which examines the claim that a plant-based diet can eliminate most degenerative diseases.
Magnolia International will be screening its Toronto pick-up God Bless America, a killing spree comedy from the always colourful Bobcat Goldthwait, and thriller The Good Doctor starring Orlando Bloom.
Bleiberg Entertainment will be tempting buyers with Battle Of The Damned from writer-director Christopher Hatton. The project is in pre-production and scheduled to begin shooting in February 2012. Leon Tong is producing the story about survivors of a viral outbreak who must battle disease and a band of rogue robot prototypes.
For Shoreline Entertainment’s Home Run Showdown, Matthew Lillard (The Descendants) stars as a washed-out baseball player who is coerced into coaching a junior team. The completed Secret Handshake Entertainment production also stars Dean Cain, Annabeth Gish, Wayne Duvall and Barry Bostwick.