With more projects selling at earlier stages, Global Road in meltdown and The Weinstein Co. a nonfactor, insiders say dealmaking at TIFF may be scarce.
On paper, the titles available for purchase at TIFF this year appear to include fewer potential awards season vehicles (like last year's I, Tonya). Even sellers acknowledge that most top-shelf product already has sold.
"More and more of our films are getting set up with distributors at earlier stages as these distributors focus on in-house production," says ICM Partners' Jessica Lacy.
The acquisitions market may be further dampened by the loss of past buyers, including Global Road, The Weinstein Co. and Broad Green. "The market feels a bit anemic to me," says Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios acquisitions chief Chris Charalambous.
Still, new players may yet emerge, including one led by Tom Ortenberg, whose Briarcliff Entertainment is releasing Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9 and is said to have raised a fund to buy more hot-button fare. Insiders expect at least these 14 films — two of which are at the package stage — to move quickly.
DIRECTOR Nick Hamm
STARS Lee Pace, Jason Sudeikis, Judy Greer, Corey Stoll
BUZZ Inspired by true events, this drama chronicles the rise and fall of automotive maverick John DeLorean (Pace) and his neighbor (Sudeikis), a drug dealer turned informant who worked with the authorities to bring the inventor down.
DIRECTOR Tate Taylor
STARS Jessica Chastain
BUZZ Chastain reunites with her The Help director in this action feature, which Chastain will also produce. The project was in jeopardy when original screenwriter and director Matthew Newton exited after news resurfaced about his pleading guilty to assaulting his girlfriend 11 years ago. But the addition of a studio helmer like Taylor is certain to boost the project's prospects.
DIRECTOR Neil Jordan
STARS Isabelle Huppert, Chloe Grace Moretz
BUZZ Oscar-winning director Jordan is back with this thriller about a lonely, mysterious widow (Huppert) whose friendship with a naive young woman (Moretz) takes on an increasingly obsessive and sinister air.
DIRECTOR Claire Denis
STARS Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth
BUZZ French master Denis makes her long-awaited English-language debut with a sci-fi drama about a group of criminals sent into deep space.
DIRECTOR Kim Nguyen
STARS Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgard, Salma Hayek
BUZZ The follow-up from War Witch helmer Nguyen sees Eisenberg and Skarsgard as two high-frequency traders, suffering under a psychopathic boss (Salma Hayek in a role rewritten as a woman for her), who come up with a scheme to make millions.
DIRECTOR Justin Kelly
STARS Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Jim Sturgess, Diane Kruger
BUZZ TIFF's closing-night film centers on the true story of Savannah Knoop (Stewart), who spent six years pretending to be the celebrated author JT LeRoy, the made-up literary persona of her sister-in-law (Dern).
DIRECTOR Sam Taylor-Johnson
STARS Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Giovanni Ribisi
BUZZ Based on James Frey's 2003 best-seller, the project was once at Warner Bros. with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's Plan B before Frey was outed for embellishing his addiction journey and the book became toxic. The husband-and-wife Taylor-Johnson team wrote the screenplay, which could attract a major studio once again.
DIRECTOR Jennifer Kent
STARS Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr
BUZZ Kent, who staked out her claim as a director to watch with 2014’s The Babadook, returns with this period film about a young Irish convict woman who chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a brutal act of violence he committed against her family.
DIRECTOR Trevor Nunn
STARS Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Tom Hughes
BUZZ Oscar-winner Judi Dench plays Joan Stanley, a grandmother exposed as the KGB's longest-serving spy in this based-on-a-true story tale from Shakespeare in Love producer David Parfitt. Sophie Cookson (Kingsman: The Golden Circle) plays the young Joan.
DIRECTOR Max Minghella
STARS Elle Fanning, Rebecca Hall
BUZZ Minghella, son of the late Anthony Minghella, pivots from acting (The Handmaid's Tale) to directing with this tale of a small-town introvert (Fanning) who auditions for a singing competition. The Maleficent actress does her own singing to boot.
DIRECTOR Antoine Fuqua
BUZZ Hot off the success of The Equalizer 2, Fuqua has signed on to direct this New York/Shanghai-set thriller from Goodfellas screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, with Tooley Entertainment, eOne and Pressman Films producing. Details are scant but Fuqua's name should be enough to get buyers circling.
DIRECTOR Brady Corbet
STARS Natalie Portman, Jude Law
BUZZ Featuring original songs by Sia, Corbet's follow-up to his much-praised 2015 directorial debut, The Childhood of a Leader, stars Portman as a recording artist whose 15-year journey to superstar success reflects the major movements in pop culture.
DIRECTOR Tom Harper
STARS Jessie Buckley, Sophie Okonedo and Julie Walters
BUZZ Look for this film, written by Nicole Taylor, to be the breakout of the market. Jessie Buckley stars as a would-be country singer longing to escape her dreary life in Scotland and make the big time in Nashville.
DIRECTOR Emma Tammi
STARS Caitlin Gerard, Julia Goldani Telles, Ashley Zuckerman
BUZZ The Western gets a horror spin in this film about a woman who moves to the American frontier to settle it with her husband when an evil presence manifests and infects her with paranoia.
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.