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Toronto Update: Weinsteins and Sony on Buying Spree, Acquire Submarine, Insidious

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 15, 2010 at 3:44AM

On the Toronto acquisitions front, both The Weinstein Co. and Sony have been buying movies.
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Thompson on Hollywood

On the Toronto acquisitions front, both The Weinstein Co. and Sony have been buying movies.

The Weinsteins just bought their second movie, rookie Richard Ayoade's Brit comedy Submarine (which I missed this morning in the interests of posting some of my mountains of material). They paid something short of seven figures for North American rights to the Ben Stiller-produced project starring Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor. (Here's Hitfix's Submarine rave.) Hawkins also made a splash here in Made in Dagenham, a female empowerment movie to be released by SPC, and appears in Searchlight's Never Let Me Go. WME Global was repping the rights.

Submarine clips are on the jump.

The Weinsteins' first buy was the raunchy high school comedy Dirty Girl, for which they paid $3 million for several English-language territories including U.S., plus France. It's refreshing to see Harvey (sans entourage) working the press and industry screenings and staying out late at CAA and Wild Bunch parties. He seems energized by the knowledge that The King's Speech is a surefire commercial winner and Oscar frontrunner. (This is a relief for The Social Network gang, because the last thing you want is to be deemed the movie to beat too early).

Sony hasn't been slacking either. SPC came into the fest with some ten movies on show here, including Another Year, Tamara Drewe and Barney's Version, and then picked up domestic rights for Denis Villeneuve's Venice and Telluride hit Incendies, which is based on Wajdi Mouawad's play about twins who seek to solve the mystery about their father and brother. Sony Worldwide is scooping up James Wan's Midnight Madness thriller Insidious, which is being repped by Stuart Ford's IM Global, from the Paranormal Activity team of Jason Blum, Oren Peli and Steven Schneider.

Distribs are in the hunt for two more acquisition titles which are expected to sell soon: Mike Mills' intimate relationship movie Beginners, which cross-cuts between Ewan McGregor attending to his dying gay father (Christopher Plummer) in the recent past and his current relationship with an actress visiting L.A. (Inglorious Basterds' Melanie Laurent). McGregor and Plummer have never been better; I wished Laurent's role had been fleshed out a bit. I also liked Mills' Thumbsucker.

Rabbit Hole is a surprisingly straightforward, nakedly emotional drama from director John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), who is a gifted director of actors. He's taking on the dangerously grim territory of two well-heeled suburban parents (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) grieving the recent loss of their only son, killed in an accident at age four. Adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire from his play, the film rings true; Kidman and Dianne Wiest as her mother are both strong, as is discovery Miles Teller. The issue is which distrib is willing to make the long-haul commitment to give this an Oscar push, which is the only way to make it a must-see. Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight already have too much on their plate for 2010. It might make sense to push this back to 2011.


This article is related to: Awards, Festivals, Genres, Headliners, Independents, Reviews, Oscars, Toronto, Nicole Kidman


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.