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Toronto: EuropaCorp Buys ‘Their Finest’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Their Finest TIFF
Courtesy of TIFF

EuropaCorp has closed a deal for U.S. distribution rights to the World War II comedy-drama “Their Finest,” Variety has learned.

The  picture debuted at the Toronto Film Festival and centers around a group of filmmakers struggling to make an inspirational and patriotic film to boost morale during the Blitz of London. It stars Bill Nighy, Richard E. Grant, and Gemma Arterton and is directed by “An Education’s” Lone Scherfig. There were several interested studios sniffing around the project in what was described as a heated bidding situation.

Calling the film a “crowd pleaser,” EuropaCorp CEO Marc Shumger said in a statement, “It’s all at once witty, heart tugging, and hilarious. EuropaCorp couldn’t be more excited to partner with Lone and the production team to bring this brilliant movie to US audiences.”

The deal is in the mid-seven figure range, with a a P&A commitment of roughly $7 million, according to a source with knowledge.

Variety critic Andrew Barker praised the film as a well-acted and enjoyable piece of entertainment.

“Aiming for a target somewhere between Howard Hawks and Richard Curtis, ‘Their Finest’ is the sort of crowd-pleaser that knows the difference between satisfying its viewers and flattering them, all the while showcasing surprising performances from Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin, and an entirely unsurprising one from Bill Nighy — a master scene-stealer pulling off yet another brazen heist,” he wrote. 

In a year in which the lack of opportunities for women both on-screen and behind the camera is a topic of fierce debate, “Their Finest” boasts both a female director in Scherfig and a proto-feminist heroine for Arterton to sink her teeth into. The latter stars as a “slop” scriptwriter, charged with bringing a female perspective to war films produced by the British Ministry of Information’s Film Division. Her current project involves British civilians rescuing soldiers after the retreat at Dunkirk. 

As Toronto enters its one-week point, it has been a glacial market, although distributors are expected to close more deals in the days ahead. One of the only big sales has been for “Jackie,” starring Natalie Portman as the iconic first lady, which went to Fox Searchlight. Many of the big titles, including “Nocturnal Animals,” “La La Land,” “Snowden” and “American Honey,” came to Toronto with a distributor in tow.

CAA and Hanway represented the filmmakers. Federica Sainte-Rose, head of worldwide acquisitions, and Aaron Michiel, exec VP of business affairs, negotiated the deal on behalf of EuropaCorp.