These deals aside, fest still a buyer's market

TORONTO — Lot 47 has acquired all U.S. rights, as well as English-speaking Canada, to the French film “The Beating of Butterfly’s Wings,” while Lions Gate Films has acquired domestic rights to Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Spanish-language “Love’s A Bitch.” However, it’s indicative of the current marketplace that the deals’ timing during the Toronto International Film Festival is merely coincidence.

While “Love’s A Bitch” (aka “Amores Perros”) screened Friday in Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema section to strong response, Lions Gate was already well on the way to closing the film’s domestic deal before the fest began last week. (Lions Gate acquired the title’s international rights just before Cannes this spring.)

Longtime commercials director Innaritu makes his feature debut with “Love’s,” the tale of three intertwining love stories that go horribly wrong.

As for “Butterfly’s Wings,” the film is not even screening in Toronto. The title was released by Les Films des Tournelles in its native France this summer. Like “Love’s,” “Butterfly’s Wings” is a crisscrossing tale from a debuting director. Here, writer-helmer Laurent Firode presents the lives of a half-dozen or so characters as they intersect over the course of one long day in Paris.

Insiders said that Lot 47 put down a low six-figure advance on the title, which stars Audrey Tautou, the Cesar-winning star of the upcoming Lot 47 acquisition “Venus Beauty Institute.” Lot 47 plans to release “Butterfly’s Wings” next summer. Jeff Lipsky of Lot 47 acquired “Butterfly’s Wings” from Anne-Dominique Toussaint of Les Films Tournelles.

‘A buyer’s market’

As for those films that entered Toronto in search of domestic acquisition, buyers and sellers alike are prepared to cool their heels.

The lobbies of the Park Hyatt and the Four Seasons are lively with meetings both ad hoc and scheduled and the ever-polite festival staff frequently must turn away dozens of would-be viewers from screenings. However, these indices are granted little weight in a chilly acquisitions climate.

Said one top acquisitions exec, “It’s very much a buyer’s market.”

Even the industry’s traditionally aggressive sales agents seem to be resigned to the fact that bidding wars are, for now, are a thing of the past and that it’s wholly possible for their films to leave a festival without so much as an offer on the table.

While there are a number of titles that are likely to sell before the week is out — including Canal Plus’ “The Weight of Water” from Kathryn Bigelow and The Sales Co.’s “The Last Resort” from director Paul Pawlikowski and Stephen Frears’ “Liam” — no one expects these deals to come easily.

Sources indicate that the original asking price for U.S. rights on the $18 million-$20 million “Weight” was $6 million, a hefty sum for a title that received decidedly mixed reviews.

Meanwhile, “Last Resort” (the story of a Russian immigrant family in the U.K.) and “Liam” (the tale of a Liverpool working-class family in the 1930s) got warm responses. However, both films share the perception of being “small” and somewhat dark, although moving.

In addition, Kirk D’Amico’s Myriad Pictures picked up worldwide rights on “Deeply” starring Sarah Polley. Pic unspooled Sunday.

Other anticipated titles include Thailand’s “The Iron Ladies,” based on the true story of Thailand’s transsexual and transvestite volleyball team; Canada’s own “Love Come Down;” the Irish-U.K. production “When Brendan Met Trudy;” and Michael Corrente’s “A Shot At Glory,” starring Robert Duvall.

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