Berlin Hot List: 11 Market Titles Set to Heat Up the Fest

9:39 AM 2/13/2018

by Scott Roxborough

With Netflix and Amazon lying low in Sundance, this year’s European Film Market may continue a return to more traditional sales models — and dealmakers couldn’t be happier.

From left: Mahershala Ali, Elisabeth Moss and Natalie Portman
From left: Mahershala Ali, Elisabeth Moss and Natalie Portman
Getty Images

After several shaky movie markets in an industry plagued by seemingly constant transition, distributors and sales outfits are heading to Berlin's European Film Market on Feb. 15 in an upbeat mood after Sundance. In Park City, newer buyers (Neon, 30West, MoviePass, Annapurna) snatched up titles, and the studios returned in force to the indie-pickup business, with Sony taking worldwide rights on the John Cho starrer Search, its SPC label nabbing Puzzle and Lionsgate boarding the Sundance opener Blindspotting. "There is some real breadth in the market," says Protagonist Pictures CEO Dave Bishop. "That's encouraging because it's not just focused on two players." He's referring to Amazon and Netflix, neither of which bought a film at Sundance.

Alison Thompson of Brit sales outfit Cornerstone Films also sees an ongoing shift away from the traditional presales market "toward what the business was like when I started in the 1990s, where buyers wait to bid on finished movies." Her Cornerstone partner Mark Gooder agrees: "The presale market isn't dead, but it's getting harder to hit that bull's-eye." Several days out, new Berlin projects are thin on the ground, though most expect a handful of big-name titles to come together just before the EFM opens.

THR's 11 titles to watch are below.

  • Green Book

    SALES: Lionsgate

    Mahershala Ali
    Mahershala Ali
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    DIRECTOR Peter Farrelly
    CAST Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali

    Moonlight's Oscar winner Ali plays a virtuoso jazz pianist who forges an unlikely friendship with his blue-collar Italian-American chauffeur (Mortensen) during a 1962 tour of the racially segregated South. The film's dramatic tone is a departure for comedy specialist Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin).

    STATUS Filming

  • Her Smell

    SALES: Endeavor Content/Bow and Arrow

    Elisabeth Moss
    Elisabeth Moss
    Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

    DIRECTOR Alex Ross Perry
    CAST Elisabeth Moss

    The Handmaid's Tale star Moss has signed on to play Becky Something, a maniacally destructive punk rock star engaged in a yearslong war against sobriety in this new drama from Golden Exit director Perry.

    STATUS Shooting later this year

  • In the Aisles

    SALES: Beta Cinema

    Sandra Huller
    Sandra Huller
    Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic/Getty Images

    DIRECTOR Thomas Stuber
    CAST Sandra Huller, Franz Rogowski

    German helmer Stuber follows up his award-winning Hubert (2015) with this low-key romantic drama featuring Toni Erdmann's Huller and up-and-coming German actor Rogowski, who will make his U.S. debut in Terrence Malick's Radegund next year.

    STATUS Finished

  • John Wick: Chapter 3

    SALES: Lionsgate

    Keanu Reeves
    Keanu Reeves
    Getty Images

    DIRECTOR Chad Stahelski
    CAST Keanu Reeves

    The third entry in the shoot-'em-up franchise, starring Reeves as the assassin who just can't quit the life, is about the closest thing possible to a bull's-eye in the action movie space.

    STATUS Preproduction

  • A Million Little Pieces

    SALES: Sierra/Affinity

    Aaron Taylor-Johnson
    Aaron Taylor-Johnson
    Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

    DIRECTOR Sam Taylor-Johnson
    CAST Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Giovanni Ribisi

    Fifty Shades of Grey director Taylor-Johnson teams up with her husband, Aaron (Nocturnal Animals), to take on James Frey's rehab memoir, which was the source of a literary scandal back in 2003 when it emerged that Frey invented many of the events described in his struggles with alcohol and crack addiction.

    STATUS Preproduction

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post

    SALES: Elle Driver

    Chloe Grace Moretz
    Chloe Grace Moretz
    Alex Wong/Getty Images News

    DIRECTOR Desiree Akhavan
    CAST Chloe Grace Moretz, Jennifer Ehle, Quinn Shephard

    Akhavan's comic drama, about Christian teens wrestling with gay-conversion therapy, picked up the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and won acclaim for its delicate treatment of a hot-button topic.

    STATUS Finished

  • Monster Family 2

    SALES: Timeless Films

    'Monster Family'
    'Monster Family'
    Courtesy of Sky

    DIRECTOR Holger Tappe

    The sequel to the 2017 animated movie, which featured the voice talents of Emily Watson, Nick Frost and Jason Isaacs and grossed more than $26 million internationally, returns with the Wishbones, an ordinary family who transform into monsters to save their friends and the world from an evil Monster Huntress.

    STATUS Preproduction

  • Mrs Lowry & Son

    SALES: The Little Film Co.

    Timothy Spall and Vanessa Redgrave
    Timothy Spall and Vanessa Redgrave
    Mike Marsland/WireImage; Karwai Tang/WireImage

    DIRECTOR Adrian Noble
    CAST Timothy Spall, Vanessa Redgrave

    British acting treasures Spall and Redgrave headline this biopic about the relationship between early 20th century British painter L.S. Lowry and his mother, Elizabeth.

    STATUS Filming

  • Only God Can Judge Us

    SALES: Global Screen

    Moritz Bleibtreu
    Moritz Bleibtreu
    Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

    DIRECTOR Ozgur Yildirim
    CAST Moritz Bleibtreu

    The crossover success of Fatih Akin's In the Fade could bode well for this German thriller, set on the mean streets of Frankfurt and featuring Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run) as a gangster trying to make a final score in order to escape his life of crime.

    STATUS Finished

  • Spider in the Web

    SALES: Film Constellation

    Ben Kingsley and Monica Bellucci
    Ben Kingsley and Monica Bellucci
    Steve Granitz/WireImage; Getty Images for Dior

    DIRECTOR Eran Riklis
    CAST Ben Kingsley, Monica Bellucci, Itay Tiran

    This espionage thriller from the award-winning Israeli director of The Lemon Tree centers on an aging spy (Kingsley) on the trail of a supposed chemical weapons sale to a Middle East dictatorship while being followed by an ambitious Mossad agent (Tiran).

    STATUS Shoots in the spring

  • Vox Lux

    SALES: Sierra/Affinity

    Natalie Portman
    Natalie Portman
    Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

    DIRECTOR Brady Corbet
    CAST Natalie Portman, Jude Law

    Corbet's drama about the rise of a singer from national tragedy to pop superstar is back on track, with Oscar winner Portman replacing Rooney Mara in the leading role. Sia provided original songs for the soundtrack.

    STATUS Filming

    This story first appeared in the Feb. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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