Cannes Foreign Super Agents
Men (and women) of mystery? Not exactly. These international sellers will be ubiquitous at the festival as the new reigning royalty of wheeling and dealing.
The Cannes film market is to the movie business what Monte Carlo is to the racing world. Sales agents rent spaces up and down the Croisette, where they sweet-talk (or browbeat) foreign buyers into picking up a movie for their territory. They barely leave their suites, and their voices are hoarse within a few days. Millions are on the line, not to mention the fate of future film projects. The bigger companies pull out all the stops, bringing in chefs and high-end espresso machines. Having a balcony facing the Croisette is the gold standard in terms of impressing clients. This year, the best and brightest of the sales business will be launching a number of high-profile, star-studded projects. And they are sure to tout the recent success of films that were financed through foreign presales -- including The King's Speech.
Filmnation: Glen Basner
The 2½-year-old sales and financing company continues to flourish, and Basner is one of the most buzzed-about names in the business. At Cannes, he'll don his tuxedo for the world premiere of Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In, which is playing in competition. He picked up foreign rights to the film last year, a coup for his fledgling venture. He'll be introducing two high-profile projects at the market: Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter, which plays in Critics' Week, and Tarsem Singh's The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, He's selling Snow White for Relativity, for which he handles a network of foreign output deals. Snow White has top star wattage in Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer and should attract plenty of interest. Relativity will release it domestically. Take Shelter stars Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain and Katy Mixon and will be released in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics.
Lionsgate: Helen Kim
Lionsgate can expect a busy Cannes. The sales company headed by Joe Drake's worthy protege Helen Kim will woo foreign buyers with several new projects. Two of them happen to star Steve Carell: Great Hope Springs, a comedy directed by David Frankel in which a woman (Meryl Streep) tries to save her marriage by turning to a famed relationship guru (Carell), and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a romantic comedy from writer-director Lorene Scafaria that also toplines Keira Knightley. Kim also has high hopes for the Eva Mendes dramedy See If I Care, directed by Patricia Riggen. Like Summit, Lionsgate's foreign operation has the advantage of having a domestic distribution operation, which remains a big selling point for international distributors.
Summit: Patrick Wachsberger
Never underestimate Wachsberger; he and Drake are the elder statesmen of the foreign sales scene. Summit is launching some big projects at Cannes, including Paul W.S. Anderson's Pompeii. The big-budget historical epic reteams Summit and Constantin, the financing and producing team behind Anderson's The Three Musketeers. Summit also will be selling foreign rights to the Logan Lerman-Emma Watson starrer The Perks of Being a Wallflower, based on the best-selling novel and directed by Stephen Chbosky, and writer-director Jonathan Levine's zombie romance Warm Bodies, starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer and based on Isaac Marion's book. There's also talk of a 3D Tarzan toon that Summit and Constantin might shop. Summit has two films at Cannes: The Tree of Life and The Beaver.
IM Global: Stuart Ford
These are prosperous times for IM Global. More than a year ago, India's Reliance took a major stake in the venture, dramatically expanding its footprint. Ford is far from shy, and he says he's got the biggest and most diverse sales and financing company around. Few would argue. He has engineered huge deals in the past year, including selling worldwide rights to Dredd. The company has four labels: Opus (which handles bigger-budget fare), Octane (genre), Acclaim (specialty) and Anthem (foreign-language). IM Global was involved early on with the horror pic Insidious, which has become one of the most profitable films at the domestic box office; it only cost $1.5 million to produce and has grossed nearly $50 million in North America. Ford's company sold foreign rights to the film. At Cannes, IM Global will be launching seven or eight projects, a dazzling number. Ford's reluctant to talk too much about them, but insiders say IM Global will be shopping the Sam Worthington starrer The Last Days of American Crime and The Enchanted Kingdom, the BBC's biggest wildlife documentary ever. IM Global won't be focusing too much on Madonna's Wallis Simpson historical drama W.E. because it is hoping to take the film to the Venice Film Festival.
StudioCanal: Rodolphe Buet
Buet will be back in Cannes for a seventh consecutive year, touting international productions and French titles. He is using the market to launch David Foenkinos' La Delicatesse, based on his book. French actress Audrey Tautou is set to star in the movie, a sure draw for buyers. StudioCanal also will continue to sell Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the high-profile Cold War thriller starring Colin Firth, Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy; the Eric Bana starrer Black Bird; and a sequel to the animated feature Sammy's Adventures. Black Bird is already in production, as is StudioCanal's African Safari 3D. StudioCanal also is planning a major publicity run for Special Forces with the film's talent, including Diane Kruger and Benoit Magimel. Buyers also will get to see 10 minutes of footage.
Focus Features International: Alison Thompson
Focus was noticeably quiet at AFM and Berlin but arrives at Cannes fully armed. It will launch Paul Weitz's film starring Robert De Niro that's based on Nick Flynn's memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. Paul Dano, Lili Taylor, Olivia Thirlby and Julianne Moore also star. Focus also will shop foreign rights to the Wachowskis' Tom Hanks project Cloud Atlas, which Warner Bros. will release in the U.S. Also debuting at the market is director Andrew Adamson's Mister Pip, with Hugh Laurie attached to star.
Exclusive Films International: Alex Brunner and Alex Walton
Co-president Alex Brunner and sales chief Alex Walton will arrive on the Croisette with two high-profile projects that the company is fully financing, producing and selling. David Ayer's End of Watch is a cop thriller that Ayer is producing with John Lesher. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are set to star in the action drama, which revolves around two LAPD partners as they confront marriage, work and fatherhood. The action thriller Snitch, from director Ric Roman Waugh and starring Dwayne Johnson, was inspired by the Frontline documentary about a suburban father who goes undercover as a drug dealer after his teenage son gets 10 years in prison because of mandatory sentencing laws.
Pathe: Muriel Sauzay
Sauzay has been with the company for three years, after a four-year stint with StudioCanal. Her team has three titles playing in the festival itself this year, a tribute to Pathe's art house leanings. All three also will be available to foreign buyers: Paolo Sorrentino's Sean Penn starrer This Must Be the Place, which plays in competition; Alain Cavalier's Pater, also in competition; and Nadine Labaki's Where Do We Go Now?, which appears in Un Certain Regard. Pathe also will be looking for presale business for Marsupilami, currently in production with Alain Chabat's Chez Wam. Pathe also will show footage of Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady, the Margaret Thatcher biopic starring Meryl Streep.
Sierra/Affinity: Nick Meyer and Marc Schaberg
Sierra/Affinity will arrive on the Croisette in high style this year. Meyer started the sales and financing company 1½ years ago, and his efforts are coming to fruition. The latest boost: Sierra is now the exclusive sales agent for films developed and produced by OddLot Entertainment and Bold Films. At Cannes, Sierra/Affinity will launch the big-screen adaptation of Ender's Game, based on the wildly successful sci-fi novel. The pedigree couldn't be better: Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are producing Ender's Game with OddLot, and Gavin Hood is directing. The project already has a domestic distributor and should be a hot property at the Cannes Film Market. Sierra/Affinity also will be launching Taylor Hackford's thriller Parker, produced by three-way partners Sierra/Affinity, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Incentive Filmed Entertainment. Jason Statham, a box-office draw overseas, is in advanced talks to star in Parker, based on the popular series of novels by Donald E. Westlake about an honorable thief. On the Bold Films side, Sierra/Affinity will shop Olatunde Osunsanmi's Evidence, a thriller anchored around found footage. And the good news doesn't end there. Sierra/Affinity has a film in competition at the Festival de Cannes: the action drama Drive, starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan.
FIVE MARKET TITLES NOT TO MISS
The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep as Maggie Thatcher. 'Nuff said. Streep reteams with Mamma Mia! director Phyllida Lloyd for this biopic on one of Britain's most popular and controversial prime ministers. Jim Broadbent co-stars as husband Denis, with Richard E. Grant playing Thatcher's political rival Michael Heseltine.
Sales: CJ Entertainment
Kang Je-gyu's war drama nearly got shot down when a copyright battle forced the filmmaker to suspend shooting. But the $30 million feature is back on track and set to be the biggest Korean film of all time. The film is based on the true story of a Korean man conscripted into the Japanese army and forced to fight for Japan and Germany in World War II.
A Royal Affair
This Danish epic from Nikolaj Arcel, screenwriter of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is the true story of the illicit 18th century love affair between Denmark's Queen Caroline Mathilde and her royal physician Johann Struensee.
Sales: Hyde Park International
Matthew McConaughey reteams with Dazed and Confused director Richard Linklater for this black comedy about a mortician (Jack Black) who plots the murder of a rich widow (Shirley MacLaine). Everything goes as planned until a district attorney suspects foul play.
Gerard Butler teams with Academy Award winner Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) for this biopic about famed surfer Rick "Frosty" Hesson, the man who mentored Jay Moriarty before his tragic death while riding the infamous waves of Northern California. Walden Media is producing with Lakeshore.