Top major territory distribs count among pre-sales struck by Millennium on Barry Levinson’s Al Pacino-starrer “The Humbling.”

France’s Metropolitan Film Export, Italy’s Ambi, Lionsgate U.K., AOne Films for the CIS and Latin America’s California Filmes are among the territories snapping up the film. ICM Partners handles U.S rights; Canadian distributor is VVS Films.

“The Humbling,” based on Philip Roth’s novel, was made on a highly contained budget precisely to avoid dependence on pre-sales and market pressures, Levinson said during an interview at at Venice’s Hotel Cipriani.

It certainly does pack a high-profile and eclectic cast, led by Pacino and Greta Gerwig, and featuring, among just femme thesps, Kyra Sedgwick, Dianne Wiest, Nina Arianda, Mary Louise Wilson.

“This is the most home-made movie in the festival,” Levinson said proudly. That should be taken literally. “Humbling” was shot at Levinson’s home in Connecticut, guerrilla-style. “We would shoot five days, shut down, shoot another eight. The whole shoot was only 20 days. We asked: ‘What do we have to do just to make the movie we want to make?’”

If the movie does well, all the cast will get something, Levinson added.

“Humbling’s” international pre-sales rollout is hardly that surprising, given the director and cast. Also, said Levinson, “We’re always trying to categorize. We’re more often wrong than right. I did ‘Rain Man.’ You could have asked: Who is the audience, people with autistic children? In its time, it made half a billion dollars.”

Viewers will not be getting a blow-for-blow bigscreen redo of Roth’s novel, Levinson said.

In the film, Pacino plays a famed stage actor near who becomes rather suicidal when he suddenly loses his gift. Fate introduces him to a woman (Gerwig), a lesbian and the daughter of friends, with whom he starts an affair. He feels he’s getting his mojo back, and begins to plan for the future. But his allusions could be self-delusion.

Levinson explained: “We thought: This is a potentially interesting character. That’s what excited us. At the end of the day you have to find a character the audience can go for a ride with.”
The pre-sales pacts also include China’s One Dollar, Korea’s Sabido and Australia’s Roadshow. The tragicomedy had its world premiere Friday night, and is already being singled out as a highlight of the first day of Toronto trading on Thursday, where it has its North American premiere.

Other “Humbling” buyers include Vietnam’s PT Parkit, Indonesia’s PT Amero, Taiwan’s Catchplay, Malaysia’s Rain Film, Israel’s United King, Middle East’s Eagle, Portugal’s Lusomundo and Turkey’s Mir Prods.