Toronto Hot List: 14 Market Titles Set to Heat Up the Fest

6:30 AM 9/5/2018

by Tatiana Siegel and Scott Roxborough

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.

  • Driven

    Endeavor Content, Embankment Films

    Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

    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.

  • Eve

    CAA, Voltage Pictures

    Taylor Hill/Getty Images

    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.

  • Greta

    CAA/Endeavor Content, Sierra/Affinity

    Courtesy of TIFF

    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.

  • High Life

    CAA, Wild Bunch

    Courtesy of TIFF

    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.

  • The Hummingbird Project

    CAA, Hanway

    Courtesy of TIFF

    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.

  • Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy

    Cassian Elwes/CAA, Fortitude International

    Courtesy of TIFF

    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).

  • A Million Little Pieces

    CAA, Sierra/Affinity

    Courtesy of TIFF

    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.

  • The Nightingale

    Endeavor Content, FilmNation

    Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

    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.

  • Red Joan

    Embankment Films

    Courtesy of TIFF

    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.

  • Teen Spirit

    CAA, Mister Smith Entertainment

    Courtesy of TIFF

    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.

  • The Street

    eOne/Sierra Affinity

    Antoine Fuqua
    Antoine Fuqua
    Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    DIRECTOR Antoine Fuqua

    STARS TBD

    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.

  • Vox Lux

    Endeavor Content, Sierra Affinity

    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.

  • Wild Rose

    CAA/UTA, Sierra/Affinity

    Courtesy of TIFF

    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.

  • The Wind

    ICM Partners, XYZ Films

    Courtesy of TIFF

    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.