7 Days of Deals
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Toronto: Slow Market Leaves Buyers Fishing: Less than an hour after Lasse Hallstrom's Salmon Fishing in the Yemen world-premiered Sept. 10 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, UTA's indie film group was fielding multiple calls from U.S. buyers, marking the first real deal action of the Toronto International Film Festival. By the next evening, CBS Films had outbid Summit Entertainment with a $5 million-plus offer.
Fishing, a charming romance starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor and written by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), is one of the few anticipated Toronto titles to meet buyer expectations by mid-festival. "I think distributor interest was so strong because Salmon Fishing is the rare romantic comedy that's actually romantic and funny," says UTA Independent co-head Rich Klubeck.
Shame, director Steve McQueen's challenging sex drama starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan that premiered at Telluride, sold to Fox Searchlight, which will release the film with a near-certain NC-17 rating. And other films have won the attention of smaller distributors. Magnolia Pictures' genre division Magnet closed a deal to release the hockey comedy Goon in the U.S. Sources say the film -- starring Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber and Jay Baruchel -- went for about $2 million in a deal brokered by CAA, attorney James Feldman and Myriad Pictures. Magnet also nabbed Bobcat Goldthwait's documentary God Bless America.
The Mario Van Peebles-directed inspirational drama All Things Fall Apart, starring Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, was acquired by Image Entertainment as the festival began. And William Friedkin's Killer Joe, starring Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch, ended up going to Mickey Liddell's Liddell Entertainment, which will look for a distributor to release the film (Voltage Pictures handled that deal).
Despite the relative lack of big sales action, producers used Toronto to announce a slew of new projects. Colin Firth joined The Railway Man, based on the real-life account of a British soldier tortured by the Japanese during World War II, which Lionsgate is selling. Michael Keaton and Michelle Monaghan signed to Penthouse North, a psychological thriller being directed by Joseph Ruben (The Forgotten), with ICM handling domestic sales. Intrepid's Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans, producers of the horror hit The Strangers, are teaming for a new thriller, Crush, about a star high school athlete who becomes the focus of an admirer's obsession. Glen Basner's FilmNation set Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel to helm the international thriller Eye in the Sky. And Stuart Ford's IM Global announced that Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcism) is directing a remake of the Thai horror thriller 13: Game of Death. -- Borys Kit and Pamela McClintock
Idol Producer Ramps of Shingle
Fresh off a rejuvenated American Idol season, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe (ICM) has hatched a new production company with a slew of development deals. The company, Nigel Lythgoe Productions, is a joint venture with Idol's 19 Entertainment and a successor to his Big Red 2 Entertainment. Through the shingle, Lythgoe has projects in various stages of development at E!, TruTV and CBS, among other networks. He will be joined by industry veteran and recent addition Kary McHoul as president and newly appointed George David Monas as vp production. As part of the moves, Lythgoe is developing unscripted projects with heavy metal icon Alice Cooper, Pussycat Dolls founder Robin Antin, sex and relationship expert Dr. Laura Berman and executive producer Kim Kardashian. Lythgoe, also a creator, executive producer and judge on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, has two previously announced reality projects in the works: an adapted game show pilot at CBS, Secret Fortune, which will be hosted by Donny Osmond; and a Partridge Family-esque singing competition show, We Are Family, in development at the CW. "Audiences want to feel emotionally invested in what they are watching in the purest sense," says Lythgoe, "and NLP will cater to that desire." -- Lacey Rose
Whitney Houston (WME, Patricia Houston) is in talks and Jordin Sparks (CAA, Pryor Cashman) and Mike Epps (ICM, Niles Kirschner, Morris Yorn) are set to star in Sparkle, a Sony remake of the 1976 music drama. Mara Brock Akil, creator of BET's The Game, is writing, and husband Salim Akil is directing.
Writer Bill Wheeler (UTA, Anonymous, Jackoway Tyerman) will pen a biopic of Greek marathon runner Stylianos "Stelios" Kyriakides for Disney. Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray (The Rookie, Secretariat) are producing along with Paris Latsis and Terry Dougas.
Chris Tucker (WME, Susan Adamson) is in talks to join Weinstein Co.'s The Silver Linings Playbook, a David O. Russell drama starring Bradley Cooper as a high school teacher released from a mental institution who looks to reconcile with his wife.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist director Peter Sollett (WME, Oasis, Morris Yorn) is in talks to helm an untitled romantic comedy for Lionsgate written by Kay Cannon (WME, Brillstein, NG Law). Anne Hathaway has an offer to star.
The 1991 surfing action pic Point Break is being remade by Alcon and Warner Bros.
Producer Frank Marshall (UTA, Bloom Hergott) is developing novelist Jeffrey Archer's espionage thriller A Matter of Honor into a potential film franchise.
Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (WME, Impression) is joining Jessica Chastain in the Guillermo del Toro-produced horror pic Mama. Universal will distribute.
A Perfect Getaway filmmaker David Twohy (ICM, Mark Temple) has set up the art-heist action thriller The Leonardo Job at Alcon. Michael Nathanson, Joseph Farrell and Catherine Paura will produce.
Bridesmaids co-star Wendi McLendon-Covey (John Carrabino, Morris Yorn) has joined Steven Soderbergh's male-stripper drama Magic Mike with Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer and Matt Bomer.
John Scheinfeld (Gersh, Lichter Grossman) has been tapped by RLF Victor Productions to direct Fame & Fortune, an adaptation of a 2007 Elvis Presley biography by former Presley bodyguard Sonny West.
Writer Olivia Silver (Apostle, Ginsburg Daniels) will make her directorial debut with the indie drama Arcadia. John Hawkes (Innovative, Morris Yorn) stars.
Focus Features will release Joe Wright's (Atonement) adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.
Scrubs actress Kerry Bishe (WME, Brookside) has joined Ben Affleck's Argo, set amid the 1979-81 Iran hostage crisis.
Tribeca Film has acquired U.S. rights to director Tony Kaye's Detachment, starring Adrien Brody.
Peter Bogdanovich (Abrams, Management Production Entertainment) has joined indie supernatural thriller The Healer, directed by Giorgio Serafini and starring Isabelle Fuhrman and Joel Courtney as teenage twins who get lost in a haunted forest.
So You Think You Can Dance favorite Stephen "tWitch" Boss (Global Artists Agency, Diaz Management) will reprise his Step Up 3D role in Step Up 4.
Grey's Anatomy showrunner Shonda Rhimes (ICM, Brooke Wharton) has sold a legal drama to ABC. Jenna Bans will write and executive produce along with Rhimes and Betsy Beers.
Ryan Seacrest (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) and sports and entertainment giant AEG are in talks to take over and rebrand the VH1 Soul network.
Conan O'Brien (WME, Pariah, Bloom Hergott) has sold a comedy pilot to TBS. Ben Wexler, Ross Novie and Jay Rondot are attached to pen the project.
Neil Marshall (ICM, Principato-Young, Bloom Hergott) has been tapped to direct an episode of HBO's Game of Thrones.
Gossip Girl producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (WME, McKuin Frankel) have set up The Carrie Diaries, Candace Bushnell's high school-set prequel to Sex and the City, at the CW. Amy Harris (CAA) will adapt.
Lie to Me star Tim Roth (CAA, Markham Froggatt, Gary Garland, Geoff Oblath) has inked a deal with 20th Century Fox Television to develop a series acting vehicle and other projects.
Aaron Sorkin's (WME, Frankfurt Kurnit) HBO cable news pilot has been picked up to series.
Syfy has renewed Alphas for a 13-episode second season.
Lifetime has picked up America's Most Wanted, which was canceled by Fox after 24 seasons.
Showtime has acquired Davis Guggenheim's U2 documentary From the Sky Down to air Oct. 29.
ION has picked up off-network rights to the TNT drama Leverage and George Lopez.
ABC Studios is developing Malibu Country, a comedy with Reba McEntire (WME) as a woman who moves from Nashville to Malibu. Kevin Abbott is writing.
Into the Wild actress Jena Malone (Gersh, Hirsch Wallerstein) and True Blood's Lindsay Pulsipher (Gersh, Mathews, Morris Yorn) have joined History's Hatfields & McCoys miniseries, starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton.
Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (CAA, Bloom Hergott) has sold his first comedy projects to ABC: family comedy The Wonderful Women of Will's World, written by David Diamond and David Weissman; and Blondie & Clyde, with Marisa Coughlan attached to write.
Former ER star Eriq La Salle (APA, Principato-Young, Felker Toczek) has booked a multiepisode arc on the CBS freshman drama A Gifted Man.
ABC is developing Beauty and the Beast, to be written by Jonathan E. Steinberg.
American Idol season 10 finalist James Durbin (19, Red Light, Lapolt Law) has signed with Wind-Up Records. His album is due in November.
Bug Music (Latham & Watkins), the largest independent music publisher in the U.S., was bought for $300 million by BMG Rights Management.
New Regency has closed a new $500 million line of credit. JPMorgan and Bank of America are lead banks on the deal.
ArcLight is opening a 14-screen multiplex in San Diego near La Jolla.
Nancy Grace, the popular legal commentator and talk show host who will appear on the upcoming season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, has signed with ICM. … Vincent Piazza, who stars as Lucky Luciano on HBO's Boardwalk Empire, has signed with MJ Management. … Writer-producer Michael Angeli, most recently a writer and co-executive producer on NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, has signed with Paradigm. … Coco Jones, who recurs on Disney Channel's sketch-comedy series So Random, has signed with UTA. … Sarah Sutherland, daughter of Kiefer Sutherland, has signed with Gersh. The recent Tisch School of the Arts graduate has booked her first acting job, a guest role on the HBO comedy Veep playing Julia Louis-Dreyfus' daughter.