Games begin in Toronto

Buzz-worthy films unspool at fest

Buyers and sellers hit the ground running at the Toronto Film Festival as a healthy number of buzzed-about titles looking for U.S. distribution unspooled in quick order on Friday.

Pics included Emilio Estevez’s “The Way,” starring Martin Sheen, Dan Rush’s Will Ferrell drama “Everything Must Go,” Mitch Glazer’s “Passion Play,” David Schwimmer’s “Trust,” and, at midnight, James Gunn’s “Super.”

“Super” is one of several films playing in Toronto’s Midnight Madness section that are being closely watched by buyers. “Super” tells the story of a husband who transforms himself into super hero Crimson Bolt after his wife takes up with a drug dealer. UTA is repping domestic rights to “Super.”

CAA is repping U.S. rights to “Everything Must Go” and and CAA/Gersh is handling U.S. on “Trust.” John Sloss’ Cinectic Media is repping “The Way,” while ICM has “Passion Play.”

The indie film biz is optimistic that Toronto will be a healthy market. A number of films acquired at the Sundance Film Festival in January have done good business at the box office, an encouraging sign after an extended downturn in the specialty biz.

At the same time, the acquisitions process looks far different than it used to. Heated bidding wars and quick deals aren’t as common, with both sides taking more time to weigh their needs. Also, smaller films are increasingly have to put up their own marketing coin.

Separately, several distribution pacts were announced Friday at Toronto that were secured before the fest got underway. They include a U.S. distrib deal with the Weinstein Co. for Kristin Scott Thomas starrer “Sarah’s Key.” Film, directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, is based on Tatiana De Rosnay’s bestselling tome about a journalist who discovers that her husband’s family had moved into a Paris apartment that had belonged to a Jewish family sent to Auschwitz.

Liev Schreiber-Helen Hunt starrer “Every Day,” which premiered earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Fest, has finalized a domestic distribution deal with Image Entertainment. CAA repped the film, directed by Richard Levine. Drama will be released early next year. Ambush Entertainment, which produced and financed the pic, also put up coin for “Super,” starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler and Kevin Bacon.

And hot off of Telluride and Venice, “Incendies,” which eOne sold to France and the Middle East before Venice and to Italy in Venice, is getting buyer attention and may pop some more major territory pacts over the weekend.