Cannes: The Struggle to Catch a Missing Star

Nicolas Cage Headshot - P 2013
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Nicolas Cage Headshot - P 2013

Late last week, sales outfit Foresight Unlimited announced it would be bringing a new Nicolas Cage project to the Cannes Film Market, Emmett/Furla’s supernatural horror pic Hotel 33. Any title starring Cage is a big win for a foreign sales agent, considering the actor is on an all-too-short list of actors who are considered international stars.

But within hours, Foresight was forced to issue a retraction after Cage’s team disavowed the news. “We have learned that the deal with Nicolas Cage on Hotel 33 is not yet closed. We therefore feel it is prudent to let the parties finalize their negotiations before we move forward with international representation of the film,” Foresight wrote.

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Insiders say Emmett/Furla didn’t have a signed deal with Cage, but like so many other producers, rushed to announce the news in time for Cannes.

Talent, however, is becoming averse to allowing their names to be attached to a project unless all the deal points have been agreed to and, in some cases, until the money is in escrow, according to numerous sales agents.

Complicating matters is the fact that producers and foreign sales agents all are fighting for the same stars.

“The list of acceptable actors and actresses is shrinking. It’s harder now than it ever has been,” says Foresight’s Mark Damon, a veteran foreign sales agent with decades of experience. Foresight and Emmett/Furla are both backed by Envision Entertainment.

Earlier this year, Johnny Depp’s agents were none too happy when Exclusive Media announced on the eve of European Film Market in Berlin that the actor, one of the world’s top stars, would star in the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass, directed by Barry Levinson.

The actor wasn’t ready to commit to Mass because of conflicts in his schedule with another project, Transcendence, which stopped Exclusive from launching the project to foreign buyers in Berlin.

That situation, however, quickly resolved itself. Depp committed to shooting Transcendence and then Mass, which goes into production later this year. Completing the circle, Exclusive will be shopping Mass in earnest at the market in Cannes.