ThinkFilm's offensive wins 'Battle'


"Battle in Seattle" review on page 87.

TORONTO — ThinkFilm has won the battle for "Battle in Seattle," acquiring all U.S. rights for about $2 million.

"Battle," which sports an all-star ensemble led by Charlize Theron, had its world premiere Saturday night at the Toronto International Film Festival and marks Stuart Townsend's directorial debut. The film is set amid the protests and riots that surrounded the World Trade Organization's 1999 meeting in Seattle.

The deal was ThinkFilm's second buy at Toronto this year. It scored the biggest sale of the fest's opening days when it picked up "Then She Found Me," Helen Hunt's directorial debut, taking U.S. distribution rights for slightly less than $2 million.

The filmmakers were repped by Endeavor Independent, which also handled a number of last year's big Toronto sales such as "Rescue Dawn" to MGM; "El Cantante," which it co-repped with William Morris Independent, to Picturehouse; and "You Kill Me," which it co-repped with ICM, to IFC.

"We started the festival with the biggest sale, and we ended the festival with the biggest sale," ThinkFilm head of U.S. theatrical Mark Urman said. "It's been a wonderful Toronto for ThinkFilm."

Beyond heralding ThinkFilm's moves, Urman also may have been needling his competitors at other indies and specialty divisions, where key executives began heading home Wednesday. Some left because of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, while others decamped, complaining that the fest lacked available indie titles with commercial potential.

That perception was countered, though, by TIFF Sales and Industry Office head Giulia Filippelli, who said that recent high-priced acquisitions — such as "Trust the Man" and "Thank You for Smoking," which Fox Searchlight acquired here in 2005, and last year's movies including "Dawn," "El Cantante" and "Kill" — were anomalies. She said that attendees had praised the high quality of this year's films and that sales, on average, were on par with those of the past 10 years.

In addition to Townsend's offscreen partner Theron, the "Battle" ensemble includes Martin Henderson, Michelle Rodriguez, Woody Harrelson, Ray Liotta, Andre Benjamin, Rade Serbedzija and Connie Nielsen.

Townsend also wrote the screenplay and produced along with Mary Aloe, Kirk Shaw and Maxime Remillard. Julien Remillard served as executive producer. "Battle" was produced by Remstar Prods., Insight Film Studios and Proud Mary Entertainment.