Flurry of film deals as Toronto comes to close

Mickey Rourke, Will Ferrell movies among weekend buys

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TORONTO -- In a last-minute burst of activity that began Friday and continued through the weekend as the Toronto International Film Festival wound to a close, U.S. distributors snapped up six more movies.

Focus Features took home Mike Mills' father-and-son tale "Beginners"; Image Entertainment selected Mitch Glazer's "Passion Play," starring Mickey Rourke; Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions joined forces again to pick up the Will Ferrell drama "Everything Must Go," written and directed by Dan Rush; IFC Films made its third buy of a festival film by scooping up "Peep World," Barry Blaustein's tale of a dysfunctional family gathering; and Oscilloscope Laboratories opted for Kelly Reichardt's Western drama "Meek's Cutoff," starring Michelle Williams and Bruce Greenwood, and Jalmari Helander's "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale," a modern take on the Santa Claus legend.

"Beginners," written and directed by Mills ("Thumbsucker"), is an autobiographical tale set in Los Angeles that stars Ewan McGregor as a man coming to terms with his father (Christopher Plummer) after his dad comes out of the closet at 75 only to learn he is dying of cancer.

Focus took worldwide rights except for Canada, France, Australia, Scandinavia and Benelux in the deal, which guarantees about $2 million in a P&A commitment and will give the film's producers a share in the gross. Focus International will be the film's sales agent in the other territories it took on.

UTA Independent Film Group, repping the filmmakers, picked up another $2 million from the territories it already had sold in Toronto. UTA, which reps Mills and McGregor, packaged the film.

Focus will release the movie next year, possibly as summer counterprogramming like "The Kids Are All Right," which it released in July.

"Beginners" was produced by Olympus Pictures in association with Parts and Labor. Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Miranda de Pencier, Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy are the producers. Olympus also was a producer of "Rabbit Hole," which Lionsgate acquired here.

"Passion," written and directed by Glazer, stars Rourke as a jazz trumpeter who falls in love with a woman (Megan Fox) who sprouts wings. Bill Murray co-stars.

Image took U.S. rights in the deal, which closed Sunday and is valued at more than seven figures. Entertainment One will distribute in Canada.

Daniel Dubiecki and Megan Ellison produced the film, with Rebecca Wang an executive producer. ICM, which reps Glazer, Rourke and Fox, handled the sale.

Image will release "Passion" theatrically; release dates haven't been determined.



Lionsgate and Roadside, which earlier last week stepped up to buy Robert Redford's "The Conspirator," paid more than $3 million for U.S. rights to "Everything," a change of pace for Ferrell, who plays a man whose life is falling apart in an adaptation of the Raymond Carver short story "Why Don't You Dance?" The film was produced by Temple Hill's Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey.

Roadside will oversee the movie's theatrical release in the spring, with Lionsgate handling a home entertainment rollout.

"This deal represents an expansion of Lionsgate's strategy targeting specialty films deserving of a quality theatrical release by leveraging our partnership with Roadside," Lionsgate executive vp Ron Schwartz said.

The deal was negotiated by Lionsgate's Schwartz and Marc Danon, Roadside's Howard Cohen, ICM (which reps Rush) and CAA (which reps Ferrell). Rush also is repped by Management 360.

IFC followed up buys of James Gunn's "Super" and Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," as well its acquisition of an authorized documentary about Harvey Weinstein, by making a low-seven-figure deal for U.S. rights to "Peep," which stars Michael C. Hall, Rainn Wilson, Sarah Silverman and Ben Schwartz as siblings who gather for their father's 70th birthday.

The film, produced by Occupant's Joe Neurauter, Felipe Marino and Keith Calder, was repped by CAA, which negotiated the deal with IFC's Arianna Bocco.

In its first buy of the fest, Oscilloscope took North American rights to "Meek's," set amid the early days of the Oregon Trail. Oscilloscope also released Reichardt's last film, 2008's "Wendy and Lucy," which also starred Williams.

The film, produced by Elizabeth Cuthrell, David Urrutia, Anish Savjani and Neil Kopp, will be released in first-half 2011. Cinetic Media repped the filmmakers on the sale.

Oscilloscope's other buy, "Rare Exports," had its world premiere in Toronto and imagines an archeological dig in Finland that unearths the remains of Santa Claus, which leads to competing claims to exploit the find.

Hoping that the movie will attract a cult following, Oscilloscope is planning a December release for the film, which will play Austin's Fantastic Fest this weekend.

Other late-breaking deals in Toronto included D Films acquiring Canadian rights to Michelangelo Frammartino's "Le quattro volte," while Lorber Films picked up U.S. rights.

Borys Kit contributed to this report.
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