By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com September 4, 2012 at 3:02PM
For the enterprising mini-majors, studio subsidiaries and indie start-ups, there are three key markets to acquire films: There's Sundance, where only a handful of movies come with distribution already sorted, and everyone hopes to uncover the next "Little Miss Sunshine" or "Precious." There's Cannes, which not only has a huge film market (often concerned with pre-sales as much as finished movies), but debuts some of the biggest international films of the year.
And then there's the Toronto International Film Festival. Though it's not quite as prestigious as some of its European counterparts, it's arguably the biggest, and maybe even the most important, festival of the year, with the widest ranging and largest line-up of competitors, one that takes in everything from micro-budget indies to $100 million star-packed pictures like "Cloud Atlas."
Many of the films there this year are already with studios or distributors who hope to use a bow at the festival as a launching pad for box office or awards season glory (and ideally, both). But there's more than a few films there without a home at present, and as the start of TIFF draws closer, we've picked out 5 that look like they could inspire some bidding wars. If you ran a distributor, what would be on your shopping list? Let us know in the comments section below.
Given that it was a tough, bleak indie romance released in the holiday season against much bigger competition and it failed to get much awards attention (bar a Best Actress nomination for Michelle Williams), $10 million at the box office wasn't a bad result at all for "Blue Valentine," especially given that it was made for only $1 million or so. As such, director Derek Cianfrance's next film was always going to get a certain amount of curiosity from buyers. But given the cast he's put together for "The Place Beyond The Pines," the film should be one of the hottest properties on the festival circuit this year. After all, it toplines two of the hottest stars of the moment, Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper. And with supporting actresses Rose Byrne and Eva Mendes, plus "Chronicle" breakout Dane DeHaan, and character-actor favorites like Ray Liotta, Bruce Greenwood and Ben Mendelsohn rounding out the cast, this is a tremendous ensemble . The film, a generation-spanning crime drama about the clash between a cop-turned-politician (Cooper) and a motorcycle stunt rider (Gosling), is still an unknown quantity at this point. And we have to say, that the film's only fall festival appearance so far appears to be at TIFF does raise some eyebrows. But given the talent involved, we'll certainly be lining up, as will potential distributors. Even if the film is a misfire, the presence of Gosling and Cooper on a poster is good for something.
After the monumental success of "Bridesmaids," pretty much everyone in town wanted to work with Kristen Wiig, but her final year on "Saturday Night Live" meant that she only had a limited amount of time to make movies (less of an issue now; she left the show in May, and has been filming Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" ever since). But the one she used her time on, in the end, was something of a passion project -- "Imogene," which follows a playwright who fakes a suicide to get her ex-boyfriend's attention, and is forced her to move in with her mother. Penned by relative newcomer Michelle Morgan, and directed by "American Splendor" duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, it seems to be significantly darker than "Bridesmaids," and they've landed something of a coup with the presence of Annette Bening as Wiig's mother, with Matt Dillon, "Glee" star Darren Criss, Nathan Corddry and Natasha Lyonne making up the rest of the eclectic cast. There's a good premise here, and the team-up of Bening and Wiig alone should make it a highly attractive prospect for distributors. One possible stumbling block -- last year's TIFF entry "Friends With Kids," which reunited most of the "Bridesmaids" cast, did fairly decently, but didn't set the world alight with a $7 million gross. Is that the ceiling on this? Or could an enterprising company take it higher?