A-list projects starring Brie Larson, Jared Leto and Carey Mulligan will generate a bidding war between dealmakers as the challenge to put movies together intensifies.
In recent days, reports surfaced that Will Ferrell would star in Reagan, a comedy about what happens when the president shows signs of dementia. News of the project sparked an immediate backlash, prompting Ferrell to pull out. The drama comes just days before the Cannes Film Market gets underway, where producers and agents look for financing for indie films by selling off foreign rights and, in some cases, securing a U.S. deal. It’s not clear whether Reagan was headed for Cannes, but it has all the hallmarks of a project ripe for the indie world: a controversial storyline that might scare off Hollywood studios and a top actor sure to impress international buyers. Either way, Ferrell’s exit underscores the increasing difficulty agents face in closing talent deals in time for Cannes. “It’s the nature of the business that packages are often finalized only days before Cannes begins,” says Micah Green, cohead of CAA’s film finance and sales group. “It makes for an intense few weeks. We do think it will pay off with a very active market on the ground.”
U.S. buyers and the major studios will continue to prowl Cannes’ market looking to prebuy a project that’s at script stage or in preproduction versus waiting for a finished film (in February, Paramount forked over $10 million for the George Clooney starrer Suburbicon at the Berlin market), raising the stakes for foreign and domestic agents scrambling to get packages together in the hope of a busy market. THR got the goods on 10 titles sure to generate interest.
Pamela McClintock and Tatiana Siegel contributed to this report.
THE BUZZ The epic tale of survival could heat up the market with Josh Hartnett playing real-life adventurer Eric LeMarque, who was stranded for eight days in 2004 in subzero temperatures in the Sierra Nevadas.
SALES AGENT Good Universe, UTA
THE BUZZ The Gattaca writer-director returns to the future, where a man (Clive Owen) tries to solve a series of murders and meets a woman (Amanda Seyfried) who has figured out how to disappear in a world without privacy.
STATUS Principal photography starts July 11
SALES AGENT Sierra/Affinity, CAA
THE BUZZ The musical comedy likely will rope in buyers with its newly minted Oscar-winning lead actress Brie Larson (Room). Donald Sutherland and Scott Bakula also star.
SALES AGENT AMBI, Paradigm
THE BUZZ Funnyman Vince Vaughn will get serious as a desperate drug courier whose work lands him in prison, where his enemies force him to commit acts of violence.
STATUS Shoots in the summer
SALES AGENT XYZ Films, WME
THE BUZZ James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is backing the comedic drama about the friendship between British actor Peter Turner and eccentric Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame (played by Jamie Bell and Annette Bening).
STATUS Shoots in the summer
SALES AGENT IM Global
THE BUZZ After helming well-received indie films Life After Beth and Joshy, Baena is becoming a magnet for rising comedy talent. His latest, shot in Italy, stars real-life couple Alison Brie and Dave Franco along with Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon.
SALES AGENT Concourse Film Trade, WME and CAA
THE BUZZ This crime thriller features rising stars Josh Wiggins (Hellion) and Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief) playing young teens in love who steal a bag of drug money to run away.
STATUS Will have its world premiere in Directors’ Fortnight
SALES AGENT Mister Smith, UTA
THE BUZZ A strong cast featuring Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell could ignite interest in the post-World War II drama, which revolves around two families living in the Mississippi Delta.
SALES AGENT Good Universe
THE BUZZ The Land of Mine director’s English-language debut, set in post-World War II Japan, will star Jared Leto as an imprisoned American who is released with the help of his cellmate and attempts to survive in a criminal underworld.
SALES AGENT Bloom
THE BUZZ The British banner behind the Oscar-winning documentary Amy is developing a still-untitled film tracing Houston’s meteoric rise and personal struggles.
SALES AGENT Altitude