Johnny Depp, Eddie Redmayne Films Energize Venice Market

Galvanized by star-laden titles, which brought Jake Gyllenhaal (“Everest”), Johnny Depp (“Black Mass”), Eddy Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”) and Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult (“Equals”) to the Lido — and a star-studded glam jury including Elizabeth Banks and Diane Kruger — its looks as if the 72nd Venice Film Festival will down as one of the highest-profile in recent years as the fest nears its midpoint.

Oscar speculation ran rife. “Danish Girl” received a 1o-minute standing ovation at its Venice gala world premiere with Redmayne earmarked as a clear Academy Awards contender. As was Depp, whose press conference was packed.

A brace of early films charmed critics, led by “Spotlight” with Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Adams, with many reckoning it was director Tom McCarthy’s best work to date; and “Marguerite,” which Variety critic Peter Debruge called “an exquisite satire.”

“Venice is not so much of a film market as Toronto. But the press is very reactive in Venice,” said Films Boutique’s Jean-Christophe Simon, adding that the positive reaction to Alexander Sokurov’s “Francofonia” will help him sell it in Toronto.

Most Venice dealing, at least through Sunday, was very much a work in progress, as prominent sales agents also used the chance to position titles before Toronto business.

Of heftier titles on the international market, IM Global had pre-sold most of the world on Atom Egoyan’s competition title “Remember”; Mister Smith Entertainment announced major territory sales on “Equals,” including the U.K. (Icon), Scandinavia (Svensk), France (Selective Films/Orange) and Italy (Adler Entertainment), France (Diaphana), Australia (Vendetta), Latin America (20th Century Fox) and Spain (Warner Bros.).  Film Factory’s Vicente Canales said Pablo Trapero’s “The Clan” received offers after its Venice premiere.

In the Venice Film Market’s biggest announced deal, Cohen Media Group acquired U.S. rights to Xavier Giannoli’s French period comedy “Marguerite,” handled by Memento Films Intl.

Film Factory closed Italy with Claudia Bedogni’s new genre label Satine Noir on Spanish action thriller “Retribution.”

U.S. distributor Silver Sword Intl. acquired distribution rights for Italy, France, Spain and Germany on “Final Vatican Conspiracy,” detailing evidence of Catholic Church corruption, from Canada’s Stark Prods.

Multiple titles — including Amos Gitai’s political thriller “Rabin, the Last Day,” drama “Blood of My Blood” from Italian vet Marco Bellocchio and Turk Ermin Alper’s “Frenzy,” both from Match Factory — still have to play competition. Of buzz titles, there was large anticipation for Lorenzo Vigas’ relationship drama “From Afar,” sold by Celluloid Dreams.

Attendance at the Venice Film Market stood stable vs. 2014 at 1,387 delegates, said VFM director Pascal Diot. The two-day European Gap Financing Market saw 246 meetings — 37% up on its inaugural 2014 edition. Stats a sign that the VFM, launched in 2012, is consolidating as a still-growing business facility.

“It’s a relationship business, so it’s great to have time to sit down and have quality meetings. Plus it’s Venice,” said Andy Whittaker, founder of U.K. distributor Dogwoof.

More Film

  • Crawl Movie

    'Crawl' and Other Disaster Movies Pose Unique Obstacles for Production Designers

    The rampaging fires, earthquakes and storms of disaster movies present unusual challenges for a production: On top of the normal work of creating a film’s lived-in and realistic locations, designers must build sets that the forces of nature can batter, flood and ravage into something completely different. Take “Crawl,” in which a Category 5 hurricane [...]

  • The Lion King

    'The Lion King' Tops $130 Million Overseas

    Disney’s “The Lion King” has roared past $130 million in international ticket sales ahead of its domestic debut, led by $76.6 million in its first week in China. Other markets began launching Wednesday, led by France with $8.3 million in its first two days with the second-biggest opening day for a Disney movie after “Avengers: [...]

  • The Lion King The Gift

    Album Review: Beyoncé’s 'The Lion King: The Gift'

    Before touching down on what Beyoncé has called her “love letter to Africa,” it’s important to see what may have brought her to the mother of mankind, with its wide vistas and sonic planes, for “The Gift” in the first place — beyond, of course, voicing Nala in the film and whatever international marketing tie-ins [...]

  • The Lion King

    'The Lion King' Roars to $23 Million Opening on Thursday Night

    Disney’s “The Lion King” has pounced on a mighty $23 million in North American locations in Thursday night preview showings. It’s the biggest preview number since Disney-Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” set the record on April 27 with $60 million. “The Lion King” is expected to debut with $150 million this weekend. Some forecasts estimate the tentpole [...]

  • Major Expansion Planned at Belfast Harbour

    Major Expansion Planned at Belfast Harbour Studios, Home of ‘Krypton’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Belfast Harbour Studios in Northern Ireland, where the Syfy series “Krypton” is shot, is set for a major expansion. The Warner Horizon-produced series has occupied the full site, which currently has two stages, since it opened in 2017. The landowners had signaled that they wanted to expand, and Variety has learned that plans for the [...]

  • Disney Movies

    Why Audiences Are Only Going to Disney Movies

    Julie Bikhman of Manhattan might buy the tickets, but when it comes to deciding what movie to see, her three young children are the ones calling the shots. “We pick them,” her 11-year-old daughter Annie declares before heading into a screening of Disney’s live-action “The Lion King.” “If it’s a Marvel movie, we know it’s [...]

  • Rob Schneider'The Week Of' film premiere,

    Rob Schneider Running for SAG-AFTRA Board, Supporting Matthew Modine

    Rob Schneider is running for a SAG-AFTRA national board seat as a member of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate and as a representative of the union’s San Francisco branch. Schneider is a former cast member on “Saturday Night Live” with movie credits on “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” “The Hot Chick,” “The Benchwarmers,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content