Toronto: Paramount Buying Chris Rock's 'Top Five' After Intense Bidding War

Top Five Still - H 2014
Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival

Top Five Still - H 2014

The studio would take worldwide rights to the comedy for as much as $13 million

Paramount is now in exclusive talks for worldwide rights to Chris Rock's new comedy Top Five in a deal that could approach or cross $13 million, according to insiders.

Rock directed, wrote and stars in the movie, which sparked an immediate bidding war after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival Sept. 6 as first reported by THR. The dealmaking became even more frenzied after Top Five received rave reviews, prompting virtually every major U.S. distributor to chase the film.

A deal with Paramount makes sense, considering the studio has longtime times to producer Scott Rudin, who made the film in concert with financier Barry Diller. Also, Rock has known Paramount chief Brad Grey for years. Grey used to co-run Brillstein-Grey, which represented numerous comedians.

Sources say paperwork isn't finalized, but that all sides want it to work out. UTA is representing domestic rights to Top Five, while FilmNation has international.

Generally speaking, Hollywood studios aren't big festival players. But Paramount's Megan Colligan, who was recently promoted from domestic president of marketing and distribution to worldwide president, is a veteran acquisitions executive, thanks to her days at Fox Searchlight and Paramount Vantage.

Also spearheading the deal is Eben Davidson, head of acquisitions for the film studio, and Amy Reinhard, president of worldwide television and home entertainment acquisitions.

Top Five, about a comedian trying to reinvent himself as a serious actor just as his reality-TV star fiancee talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her show, stars Rock opposite Rosario Dawson, with Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin Hart among those making cameos.

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