Toronto International Film Festival has proved once again that it’s one of the premier markets for distributors to acquire top independent films, and even after a bullish start to the festival, the last couple days did not disappoint.
Chief among the deals yet to be finalized is for David Gordon Green’s Joe, starring Nicholas Cage and Tye Sheridan. Lionsgate and
Magnolia had been locked in a bidding war for the film, but according to Deadline the tie has been broken in Lionsgate’s favor. Likely it will hope to release as an indie/mainstream crossover much in the mold of this year’s Mud, in which Sheridan also starred. Like Mud, Joe will be marketable on based on the involvement of a well known star, trading Matthew McConaughey for Nicolas Cage. Lionsgate will release the film under their Roadside Attractions banner.
Roadside is also in the news for its acquisition of Words and Pictures, the story of a budding romance between a struggling writer (Clive Owen) and an artist lacking inspiration (Juliette Binoche). Words and Pictures didn’t wow TIFF audiences or critics, but could still be a successful property based on the presence of its two leads. Marketing for the film, in particular, will be interesting to watch. It’s possible Roadside could put a fairly significant marketing push behind the movie, hoping to draw in the rom-com crowd.
Sacrament could be seen as a safer bet than Joe. Whereas audiences may be leery of Nicolas Cage after mediocre and/or hammy performances in a number of his most recent films (for the record, his performance in Joe is being roundly praised), West has an established fanbase with a fairly predictable turnout. The Sacraments‘s slightly more-thriller-less-horror elements could help it cross over into new demographics as well if marketing is handled properly. Then again, it might just double down on the horror audience.
Distributor A24 has been busy setting up its slate for the next year, with acquisitions of Locke and Under the Skin already finalized. It looks like Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, which like his other film making the rounds stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners), will be next to join the list. Enemy could get a major bump if Prisoners does well. A24 also seems to be skewing away from the coming-of-age dramas that dominated its output this year, moving into a more varied scope of movies.
In other news, Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side will be getting distribution as well. Open Road Films has picked up the movie, although like the films above, no release date has been announced. Nonetheless, All Is by My Side further diversifies Open Road’s upcoming releases, joining the likes of Machete Kills, animated pic The Nut Job, and Jon Favreau’s Chef.
Finally, what would distribution news be without a Weinstein company acquisition? Unlike its other recent conquests, however, this latest buy comes on a film not yet produced. Paddington Bear will be a hybrid live action/CGI movie based on a series of childrens’ books by Michael Bond. It will also feature a re-team of the leads from this year’s festival film The Railway Man. Colin Firth will voice the titular bear, while Nicole Kidman will play a vengeful taxidermist. The project will begin principal photography before the month’s end, with a November 2014 release date targeted.