Buyers buzz around ‘Flowers of War’

Exclusive 20-minute sneak peek draws top acquisitions execs

Buyers from all corners of the globe descended into the Varsity Cinema in Toronto on Friday morning to see an exclusive 20 minutes of newly-titled “The Flowers of War,” toplining Christian Bale, which is being shopped by FilmNation.

Glen Basner introduced the footage to Zhang Yimou’s $90 million Chinese epic to a theater packed with acquisitions execs including Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, Summit’s Patrick Wachsberger, Film District’s Peter Schlessel, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions’ Steve Bersch and Harvey Weinstein.

Former Magnolia Pictures toppers Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, who ankled earlier this week to head up a new TWC VoD label, were also in attendance.

Pic, for which FilmNation is handling international sales outside China and select Asian territories, is a historical drama based on Geling Yan’s tome and is adapted by scribe Liu Heng.

Story is set in 1937 Nanking, China, and sees the country at the forefront of a war with Japan. As the invading Japanese Imperial Army overrun’s China’s capital, desperate civilians seek refuge behind the protected walls of a Western cathedral.

Bale plays an American trapped in the midst of the battle who decides to protect a group of children and 13 courtesans from the horrors taking place outside the church walls.

Pic, produced by Zhang Weiping under his New Pictures Film Banner and exec produced by David Linde and Chao Ying Deng, is around 40% in English and 60% Mandarin. It has its world preem in Beijing on December 16.

“Flowers” (former titled “Heroes of Nanking”) is the first of many pics launched at Cannes in May that will screen footage to buyers here in Toronto.

Nick Meyer’s Sierra/Affinity is screening footage of Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper starrer “The Place Beyond the Pines” to buyers, while Wild Bunch is screening footage of Stephen Frears’ “Lay the Favorite,” toplining Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

And “Predisposed,” starring Jesse Eisenberg, Melissa Leo and Tracy Morgan, repped by Inferno and ICM, will also have footage unveiled to industryites.