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DEAL OF THE WEEK: AFM or AARP? Old Stars Rule — Teen fantasies have dominated the American Film Market for several years — both the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises had their start at AFM — but this year the baby boomers took over. The biggest sellers at the Oct. 31 to Nov. 7 market in Santa Monica were serious dramas targeting the so-called “best agers” 50 years or older.
The elder demo is the fastest-growing group of moviegoers worldwide. The recent success of such older-skewing titles as the Tommy Lee Jones– Meryl Streep romantic comedy Hope Springs ($105 million worldwide) and the Brit retirement comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (an astounding $134 million globally on a $10 million budget) has buyers scrambling for films that play to the gray-haired set. Two of the hottest presale titles were Foresight’s And So It Goes with Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton directed by P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend’s Wedding) and Imagine, directed by Dan Fogelman (Last Vegas) and starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Renner and Julianne Moore, which David Garrett‘s Mister Smith Entertainment is handling. Both are customized to appeal to older audiences. In Imagine, Pacino is an aging rock star who tries to reconnect with his estranged adult son (Renner). Douglas in And So It Goes is a self-centered career man suddenly confronted with a granddaughter he never knew he had. Both nearly sold out worldwide at AFM. “Top-line distributors around the world are all looking for films for an older audience — films like Argo, which are a bit smarter. There’s a real appetite for that,” says Exclusive Media’s Alex Walton, who is selling Parkland, set in the 36 hours surrounding the JFK assassination.
Overall, AFM reported a slight 6 percent uptick in buyers to 1,616 this year, with 442 films screened for nearly 8,000 attendees. But some reported a slight decrease in deal activity.
And even in the action genre — always big business at AFM — buyers were favoring the old over the new. While The Expendables 2, featuring oldies Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, closes in on $300 million worldwide, the hottest actioner at AFM was StudioCanal’s Non-Stop, starring 60-year-old Liam Neeson. “The old guys really rule,” says Bernhard zu Castell of Germany’s Universum Film, which released Neeson’s Taken 2 in Germany. “The youngest out there is Jason Statham , and he isn’t what you’d call a kid. We’ve been waiting for a new generation to take over for a while now, but it hasn’t happened yet.”– Scott Roxborough & Pamela McClintock
Studios Offload Foreign Rights
Need quick cash? Some studios are taking the unusual step of hiring foreign sales agents to sell off certain territories, thereby covering more of a movie’s budget upfront. It’s unusual because all studios have their own foreign distribution operations in place, country by country. Sierra/Affinity announced Nov. 2 that it is selling select territories for Paramount’s Flight, starring Denzel Washington, and the studio’s spring Mark Wahlberg–Dwayne Johnson action pic Pain & Gain. “It’s a way to hedge your bets,” explains one insider, particularly when the film isn’t a franchise title. Paramount hired FilmNation to sell off territories for Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska, and DreamWorks has tapped Mister Smith Entertainment to handle some films. — Pamela McClintock
Sundance Preps First Drama Slate
Sundance is growing up. The 16-year-old cable network known for indie movies is launching its first series development slate with five hourlong entries from producers including founder Robert Redford. With its first wholly owned drama Rectify already on the calendar for 2013, the network has put the family drama Valentines, from Redford and writer Olaf Olafsson, in development. Writer Dylan Gary and producers Stanley Tucci, Steve Buscemi and Wren Arthur are behind the surfing series Behind the Sun, about a boy allergic to solar rays. Bored to Death‘s Sarah Condon will produce suburban drama The Descendants, with Contraband‘s Aaron Guzikowski on board to pen the script. This American Life‘s Ira Glass and Alissa Shipp will produce T, the story of a post-op transgendered male, with In Treatment‘s Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman writing the script. Death in the Modern Age hails from writers Josh Shaffer and Eli Kooris and centers on a guy who attempts to fake his own death to start his life anew. Bob Cooper, J.J. Jamieson and Michel Fuchs will produce. The slate comes as the AMC Networks-owned channel, which reaches 42 million homes, has achieved critical success with limited series including 2010’s Carlos, which won the Golden Globe for best miniseries. Says Sundance GM and exec vp Sarah Barnett of her slate: “It harkens back to the best of what you think of in independent storytelling.” — Lesley Goldberg
Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) also will helm the final two films in Lionsgate’s Hunger Games series, Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2.
Jamie Foxx (CAA, Montone/Yorn, Del Shaw) is in talks to play villain Electro in Columbia’s Amazing Spider-Man sequel.
John Cusack (CAA, Ziffren Brittenham) is developing a movie about right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, in which he would star.
Imogen Poots (CAA, the U.K.’s Independent) will star opposite Aaron Paul in DreamWorks’ video-game adaptation Need for Speed.
Bryan Singer (WME, Bloom Hergott) will direct Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, replacing Matthew Vaughn.
Colin Firth (CAA, the U.K.’s Independent) and Michael Fassbender (CAA, Troika) will star in Genius, based on A. Scott Berg’s Max Perkins: Editor of Genius.
Jude Law (WME, the U.K.’s Julian Belfrange, Montone/Yorn, Jackoway Tyerman) is joining Naomi Watts and Robert Pattinson in Werner Herzog’s Gertrude Bell biopic Queen of the Desert.
Olivia Wilde (WME, Untitled, Ziffren Brittenham) and Hailee Steinfeld (ICM, Anonymous) will star in the Civil War thriller The Keeping Room.
Patrick Dempsey (UTA, Burstein, Stone Meyer) and Amanda Seyfried (Innovative, Frankfurt Kurnit) will star in romantic comedy Wonderful Tonight.
Paul Giamatti (UTA, Kipperman), Billy Bob Thornton (WME) and Jacki Weaver (ICM, Elevate) will star in Parkland, a JFK feature being produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman via Playtone.
Fast Five‘s Justin Lin (CAA, Cinetic, Sloss Law) is attached to direct and produce sci-fi thriller Hibernation.
Josh Duhamel (ICM, John Carrabino, Hansen Jacobson) will join Hilary Swank and Emmy Rossum in drama You’re Not You.
Gael Garcia Bernal (WME, Hansen Jacobson) will star alongside Alice Braga in The Ardor, a modern-day Western directed by Argentine helmer Pablo Fendrik.
Freestyle Releasing has nabbed North American rights to InaPPropriate Comedy, starring Adrien Brody and Lindsay Lohan.
Kim Basinger (Paradigm, MPE, Bloom Hergott) will play the female lead in the Warner Bros. comedy Grudge Match opposite Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro.
The Expendables 2 director Simon West (CAA, Jackoway Tyerman) has signed on to direct Heat, a remake of the 1986 drama, with Jason Statham starring.
Christoph Waltz (ICM, Germany’s Players Agentur) will play an Interpol agent in Disney’s The Muppets sequel.
Tim Allen (WME, Messina Baker, Ziffren Brittenham) will voice the documentary The Penguin King 3D.
Columbia Pictures has acquired U.S. rights to Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, from Annapurna Pictures.
Benedict Cumberbatch (UTA, the U.K.’s Conway van Gelder Grant) will star in Playtone’s biopic of Beatles manager Brian Epstein directed by Paul McGuigan (Sherlock).
Shirley MacLaine (ICM) and Christopher Plummer (ICM, Pitt Group) will star in the romantic comedy Elsa & Fred, a remake of the Spanish-Argentine film.
Roger Avary (ICM) will write and direct a big-screen adaptation of the video game Castle Wolfenstein.
Kill Bill choreographer Yuen Woo-ping (CAA, Bloom Hergott) will direct the China-Canada martial arts movie Vigilantes: The Lost Order.
United States of Tara creator Diablo Cody (WME, MXN, McKuin Frankel) has sold comedy Alex + Amy to ABC.
Olympian Greg Louganis (Premiere, the U.K.’s Christopher Snode, Haber, Briggs) will be a judge on ABC’s diving series Celebrity Splash.
Friends producer Greg Malins (WME, Hansen Jacobson) has received a pilot order from ABC for Tribes, an adaptation of the Israeli comedy Your Family or Mine.
1600 Penn EP Jason Winer (ICM, Mosaic, Morris Yorn) has inked a new overall deal with 20th Television.
Former Fairly Legal star Sarah Shahi (CAA, McKeon-Myones, Stone Meyer) has booked a multiepisode role on NBC’s Chicago Fire.
NBC has ordered three additional episodes of Up All Night, which will switch formats from single to multicamera. … HBO has ordered eight episodes of Stephen Merchant’s comedy Hello Ladies. … FX has renewed Wilfred for a third season with new showrunners Reed Agnew and Eli Jorne. … Adult Swim has ordered 10 episodes of the animated comedy Rick and Morty from Community‘s Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland.
CBS and Hulu have inked a multiyear licensing deal that allows the Hulu Plus subscription service to stream the CBS library.
BermanBraun is launching its third YouTube channel, CineFix, a destination for movie buffs and filmmakers.
Kristen Stewart has purchased a 3,361-square-foot Los Feliz residence for $2.195 million.
The Voice judge Adam Levine has purchased a $4.8 million house in Beverly Hills.
Julianne Moore is a new brand ambassador for L’Oreal Paris.
Zoe Saldana has been named the new face of LensCrafters.
Nicholas D’Agosto, best known for roles in the indie Rocket Science and Final Destination 5, has signed with UTA.
Keenen Ivory Wayans, director of the first two Scary Movie films, has signed with the Jackoway Tyerman law firm.
Ethan Maniquis, co-director of 2010’s Machete, has signed with APA.
Jeff Roda, who rewrote Universal’s Pitch Perfect and is adapting From What I Remember at Paramount, has signed with Verve.
Custom Productions, Steve Stockman’s company that co-created Discovery’s The Devils Ride, has signed with ICM.
THE NEXT BIG THING: Berenice Marlohe
Rep: ICM Partners. Why She Matters: The newly minted Bond girl, with a background in television in her native France, will follow Skyfall with a role in Terrence Malick’s next project alongside Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman and Christian Bale.
THE BIG NUMBER
The Big Number: $2.6 Billion — Predicted TV station revenue from election spending in 2012, according to a new SNL Kagan study, up 68 percent from 2008.
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