Toronto 2011: Buyers Cast Their Lines for 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen'

Ewan McGregor

UPDATE: Summit and CBS Films are pursuing the Ewan McGregor-Emily Blunt British pic, about an uptight British fisheries expert who agrees to help an Arab sheik introduce salmon to the wadis of Yemen.

TORONTO — Lasse Halström’s Ewan McGregor-Emily Blunt comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen has emerged as one of the darlings of the Toronto Film Festival in terms of interest from major U.S. buyers, including Summit Entertainment and CBS Films.

The British comdy was adapted for the screen by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), and is based on the book by Paul Torday.

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Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas also star in Salmon Fishing, which tells the tale of a stuffy British fisheries scientist who is asked by a fishing-obsessed Arab sheik to do the impossible — introduce British salmon to the wadis of Yemen. McGregor’s character is slowly won over by the charismatic sheik, as well as falling for the sheik’s legal representative (Blunt).

Salmon Fishing -- from BBC Films, Kudos Pictures and Lionsgate UK -- premiered at Toronto on Saturday night, and within an hour after it ended, was already drawing the inquiries of at least six domestic distributors. Insiders say Summit and CBS Films are actively pursuing the project.

One hitch: Acquisition executives had to decide between going to see Halstrom’s film or comedy The Oranges, another title up for sale domestically. On Sunday morning, those executives who went to see the premiere of The Oranges Saturday night flocked to an 11 a.m. industry screening of Salmon Fishing.

UTA is repping domestic rights for Salmon Fishing--which could be the first major acquisition out of Toronto--while Lionsgate International is handling foreign.

Insiders say the filmmakers aren't necessarily requiring a 2011 release, giving distributors more flexibility.

Another Toronto title drawing interest is cop drama Rampart, also premiering Saturday night, and horror pic You’re Next, which premiered in the Midnight Madness section over the weekend.