Cannes: 20 Hot Market Movies

Owen and Binoche can’t resist each other in the romantic "Words and Pictures."
Owen and Binoche can’t resist each other in the romantic "Words and Pictures."
 

This story first appeared in the May 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Shop Till You Drop at Cannes

There aren't as many big-ticket projects at this year's film market (yet), but there are plenty of dramas and biopics boasting top talent -- from Martin Scorsese to Justin Timberlake -- who will turn up to seduce buyers.

To sell distribution rights to projects that have yet to begin filming, sales agents promise stars, but can they deliver? The foreign sales arena was rocked by the recent drama surrounding Natalie Portman's Western Jane Got a Gun, which lost its director (Lynne Ramsay, since replaced by Gavin O'Connor) then its leading men (Jude Law dropped out; Bradley Cooper was in, then out; Ewan McGregor is now in talks for the role). Because it's harder than ever to close deals with much-in-demand talent, it's more difficult to take a script to a film market. Before investing, buyers want assurances that a star will be available to start shooting. At this year's Cannes Film Market, for example, both Reese Witherspoon and Amy Adams have two projects each being shopped at script stage. Sales agents insist the scheduling will all work out, but the uncertainty could make for added drama on the Croisette.

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Untitled Amy Winehouse Project

Director: Asif Kapadia

Foreign Sales Company: Focus Features Intl.

The authorized documentary, relying on previously unseen footage of the doomed singer, who died in July 2011 from alcohol poisoning, is among a slew of music-themed projects coming to Cannes. Kapadia earned his spurs by directing the acclaimed racing doc Senna.

Big Eyes

Starring: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz

Director: Tim Burton

Foreign Sales Company: The Weinstein Co.

A biopic of artists Walter and Margaret Keane, who fought for years after their divorce over which of them actually was responsible for a popular series of paintings of big-eyed children that made them famous in the 1950s and '60s.

Chef

Starring: Bradley Cooper

Director: John Wells

Foreign Sales Company The Weinstein Co.

Cooper -- who played an Anthony Bourdain-type cook in the sitcom Kitchen Confidential -- dons the chef hat again, though he first shoots Steven Spielberg's American Sniper. In Chef, Cooper will play a rising Paris chef who is sidestepped by booze and drugs before opening his own eatery.

STORY: Amy Winehouse Documentary Headed to Cannes

Dallas Buyers Club

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Steve Zahn

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

Foreign Sales Company: Voltage

Focus already is planning a 2013 awards campaign for the HIV/AIDS drama, based on the real-life story of Ron Woodroof, who smuggles non-FDA-approved drugs to AIDS patients.

Get It While You Can

Starring: Amy Adams

Director: Lee Daniels

Foreign Sales Company: IM Global

Will this Janis Joplin biopic, in the works for more than a decade, finally get going? Adams is set to star as the iconic 1960s singer. Daniels, who will direct a script by music industry veteran Ron Terry and Theresa Kounin-Terry, will be in Cannes to meet with foreign buyers.

Gotti

Starring: John Travolta

Director: Joe Johnston

Foreign Sales Company: IM Global

Can producer Ted Fields save the day and finally deliver Travolta his dream of playing mob boss John Gotti? (WME handles domestic.) Travolta has another project coming to the market, the art-heist pic The Forger from Code Entertainment and The Solution.

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Gus

Starring: Michelle Monaghan, Radha Mitchell, Michael Weston

Director: Jessie McCormack

Foreign Sales Company: Lightning Entertainment

Hilarity and chaos ensue when a young woman decides to give her baby to her best friend, a married woman who is childless and eager to raise a child with her husband. ICM is handling U.S.

How to Make Love Like an Englishman

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jessica Alba

Director: Tom Vaughan

Foreign Sales Company: The Solution

Brosnan stars in this sexually charged romantic comedy as an English professor who finally meets his match in Olivia (Scott Thomas) when he gets her younger sister (Alba) pregnant.

The Last Witch Hunter

Starring: Vin Diesel

Director: Breck Eisner

Foreign Sales Company: Lionsgate Intl.

The Fast & Furious movies have made Diesel a worldwide brand, and in this Summit actioner, he's part of a centuries-old tribe of cursed witch hunters.

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Libertador

Starring: Edgar Ramirez

Director: Alberto Arvelo

Foreign Sales Company: Mundial

The historical epic, in postproduction and starring Ramirez as legendary Venezuelan military and political leader Simon Bolivar, is one of the largest Venezuelan productions ever mounted.

Life Partners

Starring: Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Adam Brody, Gabourey Sidibe

Director: Susanna Fogel

Foreign Sales Company: Myriad

Fogel's script -- developed at the 2012 Sundance Screenwriters Lab -- follows a co-dependent friendship between two very different girls who both meet a charming doctor. UTA and WME are co-repping domestic rights.

Passengers

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Keanu Reeves

Director: Brian Kirk

Foreign Sales Company Exclusive Media Intl.

This sci-fi love story, set on a starship transporting human cargo, has been a passion project of Reeves, who finally found a leading lady.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Starring: Lily Collins

Director: Burr Steers

Foreign Sales Company: Panorama

Another long-gestating project appears to be getting a second life. Panorama, Megan Ellison's international sales outfit, is taking the project to Cannes. CAA packaged and is repping domestic rights.

The Salvation

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jonathan Pryce, Mikael Persbrandt

Director: Kristian Levring

Foreign Sales Company: TrustNordisk

In this Western, Mikkelsen plays an 1870s American who, after his family is murdered, goes on a bloody trail of revenge. It's currently shooting in South Africa, so buyers in Cannes should see footage.

Selfless

Starring: Ryan Reynolds

Director: Tarsem Singh

Foreign Sales Company: FilmNation

The team behind the global box-office hit Looper -- CAA, Endgame Entertainment and FilmDistrict -- is reuniting on this supernatural thriller. Selfless tells the story of a wealthy older man who pays to have his mind transplanted into a younger man's body.

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Silence

Starring: TBA

Director: Martin Scorsese

Foreign Sales Company: IM Global/Axis Films

Scorsese personally will be in town to plug the Emmett/Furla Films project to foreign buyers, hoping to raise enough financing to greenlight this adaptation of Shusaku Endo's novel about the Jesuits who brought Christianity to 17th century Japan. WME is repping domestic.

Skiptrace

Starring: Jackie Chan, Fan Bingbing

Director: Sam Fell

Foreign Sales Company: Exclusive Media

Exclusive Media is co-financing and co-producing the action comedy with Beijing-based Talent International Film Co., guaranteeing that the English-language film will get distribution in China. The sellers will emphasize Chan's global star status and Fan's growing fan base.

Spinning Gold

Starring: Justin Timberlake

Director: TBA

Foreign Sales Company: Foresight Unlimited

Timberlake will play infamous record exec Neil Bogart, who helped usher in the disco era. CAA is packaging the project and repping domestic rights. Timberlake will use his star power to charm buyers in Cannes, where he'll also be walking the red carpet for the world premiere of the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis.

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Three Little Words

Starring: Reese Witherspoon

Director: James Mangold

Foreign Sales Company: Good Universe

Witherspoon is reuniting with Mangold for the first time since Walk the Line, which won her the Oscar for best actress. An adaptation of the memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter about growing up in the Florida foster care system, the drama stars Witherspoon as a volunteer who tries to help a young girl.

Words and Pictures

Starring: Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche

Director: Fred Schepisi

Foreign Sales Company: Voltage Pictures

He's a writer and poet who traffics in words; she's a painter who focuses on pictures. They're both teachers in a New England prep school, where as they spar, initial dislike turns to rivalry turns to attraction.

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