Beats out TWC for top TIFF title

Focus Features has closed a deal for Derek Cianfrance’s multi-generational crime drama “The Place Beyond the Pines,” the company announced Sunday, beating out the Weinstein Company and other suitors for Toronto’s highest-profile acquisitions title starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper.

“Derek Cianfrance has made a bold, epic and emotionally generous saga, once again showing a master’s hand in ecliting searingly beautiful performances from the actors with whom he collaborates,” Focus CEO James Schamus and president Andrew Karpen said in a joint statement.

Variety reporters were first to note that Focus was in the mix, following an earlier report that The Weinstein Company was “aggressively pursuing” the pic with an offer; that report turned out to be premature.

While Harvey Weinstein told Variety following the world preem that “Pines” was “a great film,” a source close to TWC said execs were skeptical of its commercial prospects, adding that its 140-minute running time may be an issue.

Variety senior film critic Peter Debruge’s review of “Pines” described the film as an “overlong and under-conceived reunion” between Cianfrance and his “Blue Valentine” star Gosling. Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen co-star with Rose Byrne, Ben Mendelsohn and Ray Liotta.

In addition to Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina,” Focus brought to Toronto its awards season hopeful “Hyde Park on Hudson,” which Variety’s review called “frequently tacky.”

Focus has had a disappointing slate of late. Despite enjoying a major arthouse hit with Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” company’s recent releases “Being Flynn,” “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” and “For a Good Time, Call …” have all underwhelmed. Additionally, Focus has yet to hire a writer or director for the bigscreen adaptation of bestselling novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” despite acquiring the time-sensitive zeitgeist property back in March in partnership with Universal.

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