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The Business: AFM Heats Up

Beach Crowds
Thos Robinson/Getty Images for AFM
Beach Crowds: AFM attendance grew by 2 percent.

More than $800 million changed hands as 8,000 execs packed the Santa Monica film market

George Clooney arrived on a bike to boost deals on The Ides of March. Exclusive Media Group and Cross Creek Prods. are financing and co-producing his next directorial outing, along with Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smoke House and Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way. Based on Beau Willimon's play Farragut North, the pic also stars Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. CAA, which packaged and raised financing, is handling domestic distribution rights.

Indie FilmDistrict acquired U.S. rights to the sci-fi thriller Lockout, starring Guy Pearce (Memento) and Maggie Grace (Taken). FilmDistrict, led by Peter Schlessel and Bob Berney, also picked up the action thriller Drive, starring Gosling and Carey Mulligan.

The high school-set thriller Downers Grove was unveiled by Media Talent Group, Bystander Films and Mangrove Media. Hayden Panettiere and Nikki Reed will co-star. Nelson McCormick (Prom Night) is set to direct. Bret Easton Ellis has written the screenplay, based on the novel by Michael Hornberg. Myriad Pictures is handling rights outside North America.

Indomina Releasing picked up all North American rights to French horror film The Pack, and Film Movement snagged rights to the Australian family drama Little Sparrows.

Phase 4 Films picked up North American rights to the martial arts thriller Breaking Point, starring MMA fighter Cung Le. Media 8 Entertainment and XYZ Films will executive produce with Vietnam film studio Chanh Phuong Films.

Lionsgate snapped up U.S. distribution rights to three action movies in a pact with sales and financier IM Global. The mini-major secured Dredd, Pete Travis’ 3D adaptation of the cult 2000 AD comic series; Simon West’s Protection; and Boaz Yakin's Safe.

Crystal Sky Group closed a deal with Anchor Bay Films to jointly produce, finance and acquire up to 15 films annually with budgets from $2 million-$30 million for at least two years. Crystal Sky has created a subsidiary, Crystal Edge, to produce the movies and provide finishing funds for other films. Jon Voight will star in one of the first movies, Beyond, a supernatural thriller. Crystal Edge also made its first acquisition, the Chinese-language film Flower, taking North American rights for the romantic drama from Beijing-based Huaxia Film Distribution.

Hong Kong-based Media Asia Distribution closed a bushel of sales and presales, led by a seven-figure deal for Bruce Lee, My Brother with Japan’s A-pock. Bruce, from directors Raymond Yip and Manfred Wong, also sold to the Weinstein Co. for North America, among other territories. Weinstein also acquired Apollo 18, a low-budget sci-fi thriller to be produced by Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov. A March release is planned.

Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale were unveiled as cast members for Terence Davies’ The Deep Blue Sea. The movie, sold by Protagonist Pictures, is an adaptation of the Terence Rattigan play about a privileged housewife in 1950s London who leaves her husband for a young former RAF pilot.

French producer Samuel Hadida joined with Don Carmody to kick-start Michael J. Bassett's Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. The 3D sequel to Christophe GansSilent Hill was touted to international buyers by Lionsgate.

Antonio Recio’s The 33 of San Jose, sold by Argentina-based sales banner America Video Films, began shooting five days after the Chilean miners were rescued Oct. 13. A major studio could pick up theatrical rights, and four U.K. distributors are circling the project.