Toronto mart slow but building

Deals done for 'Metal,' 'King' as others await offers

There were few frenzied bidding wars, few dark horses and a lot of buyers waiting for lower prices as the week began at the Toronto International Film Festival, with many complaining of a lackluster sales scene.

A handful of smaller deals, however, were announced Monday.

Lumina Films nabbed sales rights outside North America from Submarine Entertainment for the true story of a metal band caught in the Iraq War, Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi's docu "Heavy Metal in Baghdad."

The Weinstein Co.'s prefest buy of U.S. and Latin American rights to another fest entry, the Spanish thriller "The King of the Hill" from Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego, officially was announced even though they had been revealed earlier in the TIFF catalog. Canadian rights went to Seville Pictures.

But elsewhere, it was a game of wait and see. The battle over Stuart Townsend's World Trade Organization protest drama "Battle in Seattle" triggered a four-distributor showdown Monday night as each prospective buyer (including one major studio) met with the filmmakers.

Bernie Goldmann and Melisa Wallack's "Bill" had some distributors circling and might sell for a good price, though it didn't provoke the quick feeding frenzy many hoped would lift the festival out of its doldrums.

Action surrounding the other Sunday night premiere, David Auburn's "The Girl in the Park," was slow to kick in as well.

The suspense surrounding the fate of Thomas McCarthy's "The Visitor" continues to build. While some initially thought it would sell quickly, buyers appear to be waiting for a lower price. Late Monday, additional suitors extended the talks, which were said to include Overture and Roadside, and a deal could be in place by this morning.

"George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead" crept along at a zombie-like pace on its way to a sale.

As for "King of the Hill," it was produced by Juanma Arance, Juan Pita, Miguel Bardem, Elena Manrique and Alvaro Augustin. The deal was negotiated by the Weinstein Co.'s Maeva Gatineau with Coach 14's Pape Boye and Jaume Domenech. "Hill" previously was sold in the U.K., Australia, France and South Korea.

The "Baghdad" deal was negotiated by the film's producers and Josh Braun of Submarine Entertainment with Samantha Horley on behalf of Lumina Films.

Borys Kit contributed to this report.