A Christian Bale Western ('Hostiles'), an Eminem rap comedy ('Bodied') and Margot Robbie starrer 'I, Tonya' are among a handful of projects tempting buyers.
Unlike Berlin, Cannes or AFM, Toronto never was designed to be a presales market. As such, the vast majority of films up for grabs this year are finished. And even among finished films, domestic buyers will find relatively slim pickings.
"We're in a moment in time where an awful lot of films have already been sold before the fest," says Sony Pictures Classics' Michael Barker, who is taking nine films to Toronto but doesn't expect to be on a buying spree.
Even the festival's hottest available titles saw distributors try to swoop in and take them off the market with aggressive offers in August, including CBS Films for I, Tonya and Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios for Chappaquiddick. Similarly, the James McAvoy-Alicia Vikander starrer Submergence has multiple bids lined up. In all three cases, the sales agents decided to wait to see how the films would be received in Toronto.
"Toronto is a great place to do business," says Sierra/Affinity’s Nick Meyer, who is bringing six films to the market — his biggest slate ever — including Molly's Game and Brad's Status (both of which already have domestic distribution). "It's a great way to come out of the summer, where everyone was talking doom and gloom about the movie business."
Privately, domestic sellers say they don't anticipate any of the titles to hit the eight-figure range. Still, a robust market is expected. These 11 films are among those that should make a splash.
DIRECTOR Joseph Kahn
STARS Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Dizaster, Anthony Michael Hall
BUZZ Kahn is one of the most successful music video directors of the past two decades (everything from Eminem's "Without Me" to Taylor Swift's new "Look What You Made Me Do"). His controversial satire centers on a progressive grad student who finds success and sparks outrage in the battle rap world. Expect lots of politically incorrect language in this Eminem-produced film.
DIRECTOR John Curran
STARS Jason Clarke, Kate Mara, Ed Helms
BUZZ Back when political scandals were neatly covered up, Sen. Ted Kennedy (Clarke) accidentally drove off a bridge, resulting in the death of campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne (Mara). This drama examines the 1969 incident.
DIRECTOR Richard Eyre
STARS Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci
BUZZ Eyre, whose 2006 thriller Notes on a Scandal earned Oscar nominations for Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, has created another promising vehicle for Thompson as a judge facing a case of strict religious practices that could endanger the life of a teenage boy.
DIRECTOR Sebastian Lelio
STARS Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams
BUZZ The director of A Fantastic Woman (which won the Silver Bear for screenplay at Berlin) makes his most star-heavy film yet, with Weisz and McAdams playing ex-lovers reunited when Weisz's character's estranged father dies, bringing her back to her Orthodox Jewish community.
DIRECTOR Scott Cooper
STARS Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Jesse Plemons
BUZZ Cooper knows how to get a great performance from his leading men (his Crazy Heart star Jeff Bridges won a best actor Oscar). This 1892-set Western about a legendary Army captain who agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory reunites Bale with his Out of the Furnace director.
DIRECTOR Craig Gillespie
STARS Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan
BUZZ Buyers say there's enough heat surrounding this project to melt one of the skating rinks featured in this ripped-from-the-headlines story. A few bids already have been swirling around this drama from the Lars and the Real Girl filmmaker. The tragicomedy tells the tale of how figure skater Tonya Harding landed at the center of the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan.
DIRECTOR Mark Raso
STARS Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olsen, Ed Harris
BUZZ A road movie centering on the strained relationship between a father and son doubles as a nostalgic requiem for the days when photos were shot on celluloid and life wasn't lived through the camera on a cellphone.
DIRECTOR Haifaa Al-Mansour
STARS Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth, Bel Powley
BUZZ Fanning stars in the biopic of the Frankenstein author, chronicling her stormy marriage to poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and the fateful night at a Swiss chateau that inspired her most famous creation. The film marks Al-Mansour's follow-up to her debut feature, Wadjda, the first film directed by a Saudi woman.
DIRECTOR Jeffrey Nachmanoff
STARS Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve
BUZZ The Matrix star Reeves beams back into the sci-fi genre for this thriller about a neuroscientist who is determined to bring his family back to life after they're killed in a car accident.
DIRECTOR Wim Wenders
STARS James McAvoy, Alicia Vikander, Celyn Jones
BUZZ This globe-trotting romance revolves around a water engineer (McAvoy) and a deep-sea researcher (Vikander) striving to reconnect despite being separated by continents. Wenders has plenty of recent heat after convincing Pope Francis to participate in an upcoming documentary that was announced at Cannes.
DIRECTOR Brie Larson
STARS Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack
BUZZ Two years after attending TIFF for the first time with the drama Room (which won her the best actress Oscar), Larson returns with her mystical directorial debut, in which she stars as an artist who's kicked out of art school and receives an invitation to a hidden store that is offering her a unicorn.
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.