Mixed sales bag at Toronto fest

'Duchess,' 'Tears,' 'Diary' among titles moved in slow week

A generally lackluster week of sales at the Toronto International Film Festival drew near a close Wednesday with the purchase of a film that hasn't even begun shooting (HR 9/13).

Paramount Vantage was in final negotiations to prebuy North American, Latin American and Australian rights to "The Duchess," starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, for about $7 million. The movie, set in the world of the 19th century British aristocracy, begins production this month in London.

As for the Toronto titles still in search of buyers, a number of smaller deals were inching toward completion.

Dario Argento's horrorfest "Mother of Tears," starring daughter Asia Argento, appeared to be finding a home, with producer Myriad Pictures in negotiations for a U.S. distribution pact with the Weinstein Co. for home video release.

Stuart Townsend's World Trade Organization protest drama "Battle in Seattle," featuring an ensemble led by the director's girlfriend, Charlize Theron, also was closing in on a deal.

In addition, Ira Sachs' 1940s-set marital drama "Married Life," from Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, is nearing a U.S. distribution deal to complement Tuesday's Canadian pickup by Equinoxe Films.

As for "In Bloom," the drama about a school shooting that was budgeted at about $12 million, its producer 2929 Entertainment found some tentative interest from Lionsgate. In the end, though, 2929 chose to distribute "Bloom" through its own Magnolia Pictures — it will be one of the distributor's two biggest-budget releases to date.

A handful of smaller deals were announced Monday, as Lumina Films nabbed sales rights outside North America to Submarine Entertainment's "Heavy Metal in Baghdad" and the Weinstein Co. officially announced its prefest buy of Spanish thriller "The King of the Hill."

The Weinsteins were busy again Tuesday, grabbing North American rights to "George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead."

Earlier in the day, North American rights for Tom McCarthy's "The Visitor" went to Overture Films, and Alan Ball's "Nothing Is Private" went to Warner Independent Pictures and Netflix's Red Envelope Entertainment.

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, meanwhile, completed a three-picture distribution deal with Canada's Equinoxe Films that encompassed Ryan Gosling starrer "Lars and the Real Girl."