Hot Toronto titles bound for Oz

16 September, 2013 by Don Groves

Australian cinemagoers can look forward to watching most of the US and European films that created heat among buyers and critics at the just-concluded Toronto International Film Festival.

Distributors had pre-bought a goodly number of the films that premiered in Toronto, while others were snapped up on the spot.


In the biggest North American deal at the market, the Weinstein Company forked out $US7 million for US rights to John Carney's Can a Song Save Your Life? Roadshow had bought the film which stars Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley in the tale of a washed-up record exec who finds his mojo after discovering a talented singer who warbles about love and heartache.

Roadshow also had Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin, a sci-fi thriller starring Scarlett Johansson as an alien who sends hitchhiking Earthlings back to her home planet.

On December 26 Icon will release Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, which won the fest’s people’s choice audience award. Based on the true story of a black man who’s abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War US, the drama stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt.

Via parent company eOne, Hopscotch gets Michael Dowse’s The F Word, a romantic comedy that stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in the tale of a med-school dropout who pursues a woman who is already in a relationship.

Transmission pre-bought The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, the feature directing debut of Ned Benson, which stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy in a drama about a marriage break-up viewed from both sides.

Also on Transmission’s slate is Fading Gigolo, a comedy starring Woody Allen as an elderly pimp and John Turturro (who also directs) as his gigolo employee.

Pinnacle had acquired Jean-Marc Vallee’s Dallas Buyers Club, which features Matthew McConaughey in the true story of a Texas electrician diagnosed with AIDS who began smuggling alternative drugs into the US to help himself and other AIDS patients.

Focus Features paid $7 million for worldwide rights to Bad Words, a dark comedy directed by and starring Jason Bateman as a disillusioned man who competes in a national spelling bee. It's yet to be determined whether Focus will sell the title to an Australian distributor or release it via corporate sibling Universal.

In Toronto, Madman Entertainment snapped up David Gordon Green’s drama Joe, which stars Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in the story of an unlikely friendship between a 15-year-old boy from a troubled family and the hard-drinking, tough-living Joe.

At the festivaI Madman’s joint MD Paul Wiegard had his first look at a bunch of titles he’d acquired months earlier, including Life Of Crime, a black comedy based on Elmore Leonard‘s novel The Switch starring Jennifer Aniston as an upper class wife who is kidnapped for ransom by an inept group of criminals led by John Hawkes; and Kevin Macdonald’s How I Live Now, which is due to open in Oz on November 28 and casts Saoirse Ronan as an American teen who's forced to go into survival mode after war breaks out during her family vacation to England.

Another Madman pre-buy is Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, a fictionalised biopic about the Japanese engineer who designed the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the lightweight aircraft used in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Last week the 72-year-old Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, who won an Oscar in 2003 for Spirited Away, announced he plans to retire, stating, “I know I've said I would retire many times in the past. Many of you must think, 'Once again.' But this time I am quite serious.”