A trio of UK films - Stephen Frears' Liam, Kieron J Walsh's When Brendan Met Trudy and David Kane's Born Romantic - are amongst the titles triggering most interest halfway through the Toronto International Film Festival.
The films, all three being handled by London-based The Sales Co, have all been well-received by Toronto audiences. US buyers are already pitching in with offers.
Although no deals had been signed at the festival at time of going to press, it looks likely that a host of premieres at Toronto this year will find a US home. Although there was scepticism at the outset that pickings were slim, buyers world-wide have made the trek to the event, one of the year's most important as a gateway for foreign films into the North American market and as a launchpad for films with distribution already secured.
Also stirring up interest were Joel Hershman's British comedy Greenfingers, Jafar Panahi's Venice Golden Lion winner The Circle, Paul Pawlikowski's Edinburgh favourite The Last Resort and Hans Petter Moland's Aberdeen.
Two new Canadian films are creating buzz at the festival: Denis Villeneuve's Maelstrom, starring Marie-Josee Croze as a woman whose life spins out of control when she is involved in a hit-and-run accident; and John Fawcett's Ginger Snaps, a horror movie about werewolves in the suburbs.
But reaction was decidedly mixed to two more high-profile movies seeking US distribution. Kathryn Bigelow's The Weight Of Water, starring Sean Penn and Catherine McCormack, was loved by some, loathed by others, and no buyer immediately stepped up to pay the $6m being asked by financier StudioCanal. Meanwhile, Michael Corrente's Scottish soccer saga A Shot At Glory, starring Robert Duvall, Michael Keaton and Ally McCoist, similarly divided industry audiences.
Three domestic deals were clinched in the last week but none were for world premieres at the festival. Lions Gate Films bought US rights to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Amores Perros, being sold in foreign territories by sister company Lions Gate Films International. Lot 47 Films acquired Laurent Firode's The Beating Of Butterfly Wings, while Skouras Films and Blackwatch Releasing jointly acquired worldwide rights to Hilary Birmingam's The Truth About Tully.
Meanwhile it emerged that Newmarket Capital Group will start its own distribution outfit kicking off next year with Christopher Nolan's Memento. The Venice and Toronto hit will be released in March under the auspices of distribution veteran Bob Berney.
Canadian giant Alliance Atlantis was out in force, throwing its now customary party at the Royal Ontario Museum as well as acquiring worldwide rights to World Traveler. Another acquisition sealed at Toronto was that of international rights to Daniel Minahan's Series 7 by Good Machine International, which swiftly sold the movie to FilmFour Distribution in the UK.
DreamWorks SKG, which successfully launched American Beauty at Toronto last year, was trying the trick again here with two high-profile world premieres - Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous and Rod Lurie's The Contender. While both went down well, the studio only has domestic rights on both titles. TF1 International is selling The Contender, while Columbia TriStar has bought international rights to Almost Famous as well as two future DreamWorks pictures - Barry Levinson's An Everlasting Piece and Montecito Film Co's Evolution.
Almost Famous was one of the films generating Oscar heat along with a few other festival staples rapturously received in Toronto - notably Stephen Daldry's Billy Elliot, Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls.
After offering North American premieres last year to American Beauty, The Cider House Rules and Boys Don't Cry, Toronto is also becoming the logical starting point for Academy Award and Golden Globe campaigns.