Arthouse labels busy at Toronto

TORONTO — Specialized film distribs went on a shopping spree during the final days of the Toronto Intl. Film Festival.

Miramax Films picked up Michael Moore’s docu “The Big One,” while October Films bought Trey Parker’s “Orgazmo” and signed a multipic deal with the filmmaker, whose animated short “The Spirit of Christmas” led to the new Comedy Central TV series “South Park.”

Not to be left out of the action, Sony Pictures Classics was in final talks with Jean Doumanian Prods. for the acquisition of David Mamet’s “The Spanish Prisoner.”

Miramax acquired North American, Latin American and Asian rights to Moore’s sendup of corporate America from BBC Features and Mayfair Entertainment Intl. Miramax paid $600,000 for the followup to Moore’s 1990 hit docu “Roger and Me.”

Although he lost out to Warner Bros. on “Roger and Me” eight years ago, Miramax chairman Harvey Weinstein won “The Big One” by pledging 50% of the film’s profits to charities and community organizations in Moore’s home town of Flint, Mich. Moore told reporters Thursday that Weinstein has agreed to pay an immediate advance of $100,000 on profits for relief programs in Flint, whose citizens have been hurt by auto industry downsizing.

Observations on downsizing

Moore filmed “Big One” while on a nationwide tour to promote his book “Downsize This!” The docu was produced by Kathleen Glynn and executive produced by David Mortimer and Jeremy Gibson.

Pic features interviews with unemployed workers and culminates in a confrontation between Moore and Nike Inc. CEO Philip Knight, in which the filmmaker tries to convince him to build a athletic footwear factory in Flint.

“This is a very happy day for me,” said Moore. “I have long admired Bob and Harvey and I consider us all peas from the same pod — or at least from the same tailor. They got their start in Buffalo, I got my start in Flint.”

Weinstein was not able to attend the press conference because bad weather left him stranded at LaGuardia Airport. The deal was negotiated on behalf of Miramax by senior VP of acquisitions and co-productions Jason Blum and senior veepee of acquisitions and business affairs Andrew Herwitz.

On behalf of Moore and Glynn, the deal was negotiated by David Tenzer of CAA and Douglas Urbanski of Douglas Management.

October orgasmic

October paid high six figures for the North American rights to “Orgazmo” from MDP Worldwide. Written, directed and starring Parker, pic is about a hunky Mormon who is lured into the world of adult filmmaking.

“Orgazmo” was produced by Fran Kuzui, Jason McHugh and Matt Stone for Avenging Conscience Prods. Exec producers are Mark Damon, Kaz Kuzui and Noriaki Nakagawa. The film’s soundtrack features the Dust Brothers, Parker and Stone’s DVDA.

“We think ‘Orgazmo’ is destined to become a cult classic,” said October co-president Bingham Ray, who bought the film along with partners Scott Greenstein and John Schmidt. “Most importantly, we are thrilled to be in a long-term relationship with Trey and look forward to future projects.”

The deal was negotiated by the three October partners, Cassian Elwes and Mike Simpson of William Morris and Kevin Morris of Barnes Morris Wolf.

‘Spanish’ culture

“Spanish Prisoner” is the fifth film from Mamet, the Chicago-bred hyphenate whose helming credits include “House of Games” and “Homicide.” Pic stars Campbell Scott as a businessman drawn into a web of illusion after creating a valuable new strategy for his company. Also in the cast are Steve Martin, Ben Gazzara, Felicity Huffman, Rebecca Pidgeon and magician Ricky Jay.

“Prisoner” was produced by longtime Woody Allen associate Jean Doumanian. Mamet brought the script to her while she was producing “Death Defying Acts,” an evening of one-acts written by Allen, Mamet and Elaine May that played in Manhattan.

Doumanian could not be reached for comment, but sources said Sony Classics had edged out at least five other bidders, including Trimark.

“Spanish Prisoner” is the third film Doumanian has sold this year. At the Cannes Intl. Film Festival, Fine Line Features paid more than $10 million for domestic rights to two Doumanian productions — Allen’s latest pic, “Deconstructing Harry,” and Barbara Kopple’s “Wild Man Blues,” a docu about the European tour of Allen’s jazz band.

contributor:Brendan Kelly and Andrew Hindes

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