Toronto 2011: CBS Films to Buy 'Salmon Fishing' for Roughly $5 Mil

Lasse Halström’s Ewan McGregor-Emily Blunt comedy is the first Toronto title to spark serious interest among U.S. buyers after premiering Saturday night; the race for domestic rights came down to CBS Films and Summit.

TORONTO—CBS Films has emerged the favorite bidder for U.S. distribution rights to Lasse Halström’s Ewan McGregor-Emily Blunt comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen in the first major dealmaking to come of the Toronto Film Festival.

While a number of major buyers circled the project after it premiered here Saturday night, the bidding came down to CBS Films and Summit, according to insiders. THR first reported that the two companies were aggressively pursuing rights to distribute Salmon Fishing domestically.

CBS Films will pay $4 million to $5 million for Salmon Fishing--produced by BBC Films, Kudos Pictures and Lionsgate UK--although the pricetag is expected to be on the higher end. The deal is expected to close later today.

UTA is repping domestic rights, while Lionsgate International is handling foreign (Lionsgate UK will release the movie in the U.K.)

Salmon Fishing is based on the best-selling British novel by Paul Torday, with Simon Beaufoy penning the adapated script (Slumdog Millionaire).

Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas also star in Salmon Fishing, which tell 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, and begins falling for the sheik’s legal representative (Blunt).

Salmon Fishing premiered at Toronto on Saturday night, and within an hour after it ended, was already drawing the inquiries of at least six domestic distributors.

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. screening of Salmon Fishing.