Sundance sizzled. But the box office of the films sold in that market largely fizzled over the past few months. That has buyers, and even sellers, expecting a market correction this Toronto, with little evidence to support the astronomical price tags in Park City (think eight-figure acquisitions like Late Night and Blinded by the Light). In a sign of the anxiety felt by sales agents, most are pre-screening their bigger titles for distributors ahead of the market. But ICM Partners' Oliver Wheeler says his team is bucking that trend. "I still think premiering at a festival, in a competitive environment with the good old-fashioned audience, is usually the best way to go about selling a film," he says.
Most dealmakers expect Netflix to strike for films with name casts or foreign-language titles to build its international slate. Cornerstone Films' Mark Gooder asks the question vexing both buyers and sellers: "What's theatrical in today's market?" he says. "Is it just tentpoles and horror films?" Gooder notes that "the indie film model was born out of nothing. It built up into this huge business model. But now it's returning to where it was." Still, these 10 projects are among the top contenders hoping to reverse the cooling trend.