Toronto deals slow to emerge

IFC’s ‘Valhalla’ buy is week’s first U.S. pickup

With the first weekend of the Toronto fest over, acquisition deals have been slow to emerge.

There are few U.S. offers on films, and dealmaking seems to be in a holding pattern, as distribs are waiting to show pics to their marketing execs and other decisionmakers.

“Buyers are taking their time a little more,” said attorney Andrew Hurwitz, who is part of the sales pack working on Demi Moore-David Duchovny pic “The Joneses.” “Toronto shows a lot of movies; it’s difficult for everyone on buyer teams to see them at the same time.”

The only U.S. deal of note to emerge Monday was IFC Films’ pickup of Danish helmer Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Valhalla Rising.”

But several titles are getting attention, with some making foreign territory deals. Among them are horror pic “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” which sold to France and Australia; Italian-set Tilda Swinton starrer “I Am Love,” which drew a U.K. and Oz pickup; and “The Joneses,” for which deals in France and Latin America have been made.

Bob Berney, who was in Toronto to sample films as well as bow his Jane Campion-helmed pic “Bright Star,” said he wasn’t surprised U.S. deals weren’t yet flowing in the current marketplace. “You’re not going to rush out and buy something right away,” he said. “You’re going to sit around and think about it.”

Some buyers, including Berney, had to leave town, which means that screenings are being set up in Los Angeles and New York, and some DVDs are being shipped around.

Berney, who will return to Toronto later this week, added, “I think there will be deals; there is some interesting stuff to come still.”

Berney also provided some of the only news of the day when he and Alliance Films chair Victor Loewy announced their Canadian distribution pact.

“I’ve worked with Victor Loewy for a long time, so it’s a nice continuation with them,” Berney said.

Alliance Films also handles Canadian distribution for CBS Films, Focus Features, the Weinstein Co., Overture Films, the Film Department, A Bigger Boat, Grosvenor Park and Relativity Media.

The Apparition-Alliance partnership kicks off on Nov. 13 with the release of Toronto fest closer “The Young Victoria,” helmed by Canuck Jean-Marc Vallee. Pic was bought separately by Alliance before the deal with Berney’s Apparition was struck (and it’s a coincidence that Apparition also picked up the film for the U.S.), but Berney said he considers it the official start of the alliance.

Not all of Apparition’s current slate will go through the Canuck distrib, however. “When we pick up all North American rights to a film from now on, it will go through Alliance,” Berney added, noting that titles shared with their U.S. ancillaries partner Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group (“Black Dynamite” and “Boondock Saints II”) as well as “Bright Star” aren’t part of the deal. (TVA Films has the latter pic in Canada.)

And fest’s fourth annual Intl. Financing Forum wrapped today, with the two-day event hosting more than 800 meetings between producers and execs from Film4, Pathe, Fortissimo, BBC, Overture Films, Filmax, Cinetic Media, IFC, Participant, Magnolia and E1.

Producer Ted Hope and Denmark’s Thomas Mai (CEO of new digital distrib Festival Darlings) set the tone for the financing event with an upbeat discussion about new frontiers, urging indie producers to investigate emerging financing models, cut out the “middle man” (i.e. traditional distrib models) and offer pics on multiple platforms.

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