By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 22, 2011 at 2:29AM
So they're off! On a bright sunny Friday morning, the usual gang of buyers assembled at Park City' Utah's Holiday Cinema III for one of the more promising commercial titles, Margin Call, featuring an attractive ensemble of wily character actors led by Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany and Zachary Quinto--with ace support from Demi Moore, Simon Baker and Jeremy Irons. Buyers Harvey Weinstein, Focus's James Schamus, Sony Pictures Classics' Tom Bernard, Fox Searchlight's Tony Safford, IFC's Jonathan Seyring, and others packed the press and industry screening. UPDATE: Three companies are bidding on the film so far.
Set in 2008, the film shows the financial world on the edge of collapse; risk analyst Stanley Tucci is just figuring this out when he gets canned after 19 years. He passes his charts onto one of his staffers, Quinto, who turns out to be a trained rocket scientist who plays with numbers--why not make more money on Wall Street? The movie follows the 24 hours before the Crash as the players at an ancient investment bank (Lehman Brothers), decide how they are going to get out of the coming shitstorm alive.
While first-time director J.C. Chandor's script made the top ten on last year's Black List, he had to struggle to get the film financed via foreign pre-sales. The final film could have used a little spit and polish; the pace is deliberate. But the movie, which was produced at a fraction of the cost of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and financed independently via foreign pre-sales, works as an engaging, tense character study about how people behave under duress.