‘Awakening’ closes U.S. sale at TIFF

Cohen Media Group buys domestic rights for Hall starrer

Rebecca Hall starrer “The Awakening” was acquired for U.S. distribution in Toronto Tuesday by Cohen Media Group. European heavyweight Studiocanal sold rights for a seven-figure sum and screen commitment.

The deal, which was negotiated by Studiocanal head of international sales Harold van Lier and Cohen CEO Charles S. Cohen, marks the fifth time the companies have worked together in the past year: Studiocanal has also sold the distrib “Outside the Law,” Audrey Tautou starrer “La Delicatesse” and Gerard Depardieu starrer “My Afternoons With Margueritte,” which unspools in the U.S. on Friday.

“The Awakening” is a supernatural thriller, helmed by Nick Murphy and produced via Studiocanal’s U.K. arm with Origin Pictures and BBC Films.

It screened in Toronto at a press and industry screening on Sunday but Studiocanal had been screening the pic privately to U.S. buyers on Friday and Saturday.

Pic was a buzzed-about title amongst U.S. distributors and there were said to be several deals on the table before Cohen flew into Toronto on Monday and took it off the table.

Dominic West and Imelda Staunton also star in the pic, which is set in 1921 with Hall as a woman who is skeptical of sceances, but her disbelief is questioned in a terrifying way at a boys’ boarding school.

Sarah Curtis, Julia Stannard and David M. Thompson produce while Murphy co-wrote the story with Stephen Volk.

Harold van Lier, head of international sales at Studiocanal, said that the sale was a very exciting move and “strengthened the relationship between the two companies.”

“It’s a strong theatrical film but will also have a strong ancillary value with VOD,” van Lier told Variety.

Van Lier added that this Toronto, while the numbers of deals across the fest hasn’t been huge, the volume of buyers has risen sharply compared to last year.

“There have been a lot more players existing here in Toronto because buyers have seen the value of the VOD market through Netflix and Lovefilm,” he said.

“The Awakening” will be distributed by Studiocanal in Blighty, Gaul and Germany and will bow in the U.K. in November.

Earlier in the fest, Cohen Media snapped up U.S. rights to “Confession of a Child of the Century.”