The Weinstein Company's deal for U.S. rights to John Carney's “Can a Song Save Your Life?,” starring Keira Knightley, carried a $7 million price tag along with a $20 million P&A commitment. That was far above the $3.5 million paid by Focus in last year's top Toronto deal, “The Place Beyond the Pines.”
Focus stepped up this year with $7 million for worldwide rights to Jason Bateman's dark comedy “Bad Words.” The thesp directed and stars in the story of a disillusioned man who competes in a national spelling bee via a registration loophole.
Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions paid $2 million for “Life of Crime,” a full four days before it screened as the closing night film. The dark comedy stars Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes and Tim Robbins and is based on Elmore Leonard's “The Switch.”
CBS Films, which made the biggest buy at the 2011 fest with “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” bought the Daniel Radcliffe-Zoe Kazan romantic comedy “The F Word” for $2.5 million. The banner also handled 2012's “The Woman in Black,” Radcliffe's first non-Harry Potter film role.
Year-old A24 made the first major deal at the festival, paying more than $1 million for North American rights to Steven Knight's “Locke,” starring Tom Hardy as a man attempting to salvage his life over the course of one car ride. The film had premiered at Venice.
A24 also paid an undisclosed amount for U.S. rights to Toronto-set drama “Enemy,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Denis Villeneuve. The Canadian helmer also directed Gyllenhaal in Warner's crime thriller “Prisoners,” which also screened at Toronto and Telluride.
Open Road and XLrator Media teamed to pay an undisclosed amount for North American rights to “All Is By My Side,” the Jimi Hendrix biopic starring Andre Benjamin and directed by John Ridley from his own script. Ridley also wrote “12 Years a Slave,” another Toronto title.
Open Road also paid an undisclosed amount for U.S. rights to Eli Roth's “Green Inferno” after its Midnight Madness screening. Worldview Entertainment agreed to finance and produce a sequel.
Millennium Entertainment paid over $2 million for U.S. rights to John Turturro's “Fading Gigolo,” starring Woody Allen in one his few films in which he did not direct. Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber, Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara also star.
TWC's second-biggest Toronto deal was paying about $3 million for U.S., Canadian, UK and French rights to the two-film package “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her,” which tells both perspectives of a couple played by Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy.
TWC's third Toronto deal was for $2 million for U.S. rights to “The Railway Man,” a specialty drama starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman about a British POW who's brutalized in a Japanese internment camp. Decades later, he sets out to confront the interpreters he holds responsible.
A24 was one of the most active buyers, paying more than $1 million for U.S. rights to “Under the Skin,” a sci-fi thriller starring Scarlett Johansson as an alien who sends hitchhiking Earthlings back to her home planet.
Well Go USA acquired U.S. rights to police drama “McCanick” for an undisclosed amount. One of Cory Monteith's final roles, the film also stars David Morse as a hothead cop who put away Monteith's character seven years earlier and discovers he's back on the streets.
Relativity partnered with Blumhouse Prods. to buy “Oculus” for an undisclosed amount following its world premiere in the Midnight Madness section. Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites star as sister and brother who discover the cause of their parents' deaths — a cursed, 300-year-old mirror. Director Mike Flanagan based the story on a short film he made on his laptop for $1,000 in 2005.
In one of the last deals of the festival, Roadside Attractions acquired U.S. rights to “Words and Pictures” for an undisclosed amount. The deal on the romancer starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche closed six days after the film's premiere.
Academy, BevHills, Sept. 12.
Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal said the actors were relaxed on set as they distanced themselves from the heavy subject matter and intensity of filming. “Weirdly, as an actor, it is almost like a sling shot,” explained Gyllenhaal. “The further you get away from the idea, the tighter you get wound, and then you let go and you go farther and faster toward the target.”
The Roundhouse, Toronto, Sept. 9
Entertainment One feted the 29 films the Toronto-headquartered company will be distributing across Canada in the months to come. EOne execs Darren Throop, Bryan Gliserman, David Reckziegel and Noah Segal mingled with fellow Canadians Xavier Dolan and “Man of Tai Chi” director and star Keanu Reeves, and “The Art of the Steal” star Jay Baruchel.
Plaza Hotel, Gotham, Sept. 10
Playing a mobster's daughter was a departure from “Glee” for Dianna Agron. “I've never really gotten to show the anger (that) I do in this,” she said. The film repped the second time the actress has performed stunt work in a film. “Because I'm blonde and in a dress, they think I'm not going to be good at this. It makes me kind of proud that I am.”
Universal City Walk, Universal City, Sept. 10
Helmer James Wan didn't attend, but his presence haunted the preem. Even with the possibility of a third chapter of “Insidious,” Wan recently said he was finished with the horror genre. “Only if James beat me with a hammer, would I do (a third film) with a different director,” producer Jason Blum said. “I'm going to try and talk him out of (leaving the genre). That's the most insane thing I've ever heard in my life.”
Windsor Arms, Toronto, Sept. 9
While there were many familiar faces — Eli Roth, Juliette Lewis and Mads Mikkelsen among them — the annual soiree has always been about emerging talent. Caitlin Stasey, star of Midnight Madness opener “All Cheerleaders Die,” said she has traded in her pom-poms for period dress, and is now in Toronto shooting the TV series “Reign” with fellow cast members Toby Regbo and Celina Sinden, who also dropped by.
The Carlu, Toronto, Sept. 8
The evening's emcee, Alan Cumming, helped auction an “Underground Safari” — an intimate tour of underground New York drinking establishments with Cumming and an expert mixologist who has invented a hangover cure. “It's a night of major drinking and partying with me, and the next day you won't feel a thing,” Cumming explained to the delight of the guests, who chanted, “You won't remember a thing!” throughout the bidding, which topped an impressive $21,000.
Storys, Toronto, Sept. 8
After 15 years and more than 70 films, Randall Emmett admitted that he and partner George Furla have gotten to a cool place in Hollywood. “When I started out, you were really an outsider if you were financing independent films,” Emmett noted. “I think what we do is viewed as a much cooler thing now.”
Soho House, Toronto, Sept. 9
After a well-received premiere, director John Wells got pats on the back for his work, including a harder-than-it-looks dinner scene that lasts 19 minutes. Wells laughed that he couldn't stay at the party too long because he had to work on an episode of “Shameless.”
C Lounge, Toronto, Sept. 10
Most of the “Kill Your Darlings” buzz has centered around the actors, but director John Krokidas and his co-writer Austin Bunn were treated like rock stars at the film's Toronto bow. Guests gathered around the outdoor reflecting pool and enjoyed the sultry weather.
Thompson Hotel, Toronto, Sept. 8
Niki Lauda piloted himself from Europe, landing in Toronto at 8 p.m. for the 9:30 premiere. And he would be flying his plane back home the following day. He laughed that all the showbiz hoopla was “a little strange,” but he loved the film. Pointing to Daniel Bruhl, who plays him onscreen, Lauda said, “He is good.”
Winter Garden Theater, Toronto, Sept. 9
Director David Frankel said the first cut of the film was as tight and short as possible. And then, defying his nickname, Harvey Weinstein extended the running time by a few minutes by re-inserting some footage. “He was so supportive, he turned out to be Harvey Extenderhands,” Frankel deadpanned.
Top of the Standard, Gotham, Sept. 12
Joseph Gordon-Levitt offered relationship advice to other Don Jons of the world: “The truth is, real life is so much more rich than any two dimensional image, but you'll miss all that nuance if you're busy comparing your life to these fantasies, and wishing it was something and trying to get it to be that, rather than approaching with wonder for what it is.”
Holt Renfrew, Toronto, Sept. 7-10
Scarlett Johansson discussed her character in “Under the Skin,” an alien seductress who preys on young men in Scotland. “There was this challenge of having to abandon all of these normal human instincts we have,” Johansson said — “our doubts and fears and judgments, and start from the very beginning and have a very pure intention.”
The Bungalow, Santa Monica, Sept. 9
Fox raised $25,000 to benefit four environmental charities: EMA, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, Heal the Bay and The Nature Conservancy.