Biggest fest deal closes for $1.5 mil

TORONTO — United Artists on Thursday closed the biggest pact of the Toronto Film Festival, committing $1.5 million for all North American rights to the Chinese pic “Together,” helmed by Chen Kaige (“Farewell My Concubine”).

UA sealed the pact with Etchie Stroh’s Moonstone Entertainment, which is handling worldwide sales on the pic. Fine Line and ThinkFilm both had made offers.

“Together” is about a shy, 13-year-old boy who moves from a small provincial town to the big city to study at a prestigious music school.

“I saw the film and knew we must buy it,” UA topper Bingham Ray told Daily Variety.

‘Cabin,’ ‘Lives’ in play

Other movies still in play and likely to sell during the next several days or shortly after the festival include “Cabin Fever,” helmed by Eli Roth; Alan Rudolph’s “The Secret Lives of Dentists”; docu “Spellbound”; “Try 17″; controversial Larry Clark/Ed Lachman pic “Ken Park”; and 9/11-themed Sigourney Weaver/Anthony LaPaglia starrer “The Guys.”

Early on, it looked as if Toronto might be a slow market for pic sales given the economic crunch and the lack of high-profile English-lingo pics. But buying and selling kicked into full gear midweek. Still, there were no blockbuster deals to rock the fest, which wraps Saturday, and most of the films snapped up were foreign titles.

Miramax aggressive

As it did at Sundance, Miramax proved to be an aggressive buyer, striking first with a $900,000 offer for domestic and other rights to French buzz pic “Jet Lag.” Lions Gate also made some noise, nabbing Gallic pic “Irreversible” and “Stevie,” the latest from “Hoop Dreams” helmer Steve James.

“It was frustratingly low on top quality, available product,” said Mark Urman, prexy of distribution for ThinkFilm. “But I did think it was a good festival for discoveries.”

ThinkFilm is negotiating to buy several pics, deals that will likely close after the fest.

(For fest news around the globe, visit Variety.com/filmfestivals)

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