Cannes buyers had plenty of screenings to choose from today but the hottest movie on the Croisette right now is Philomena — or at least the seven minutes that were shown to buyers this morning. This is the Stephen Frears-directed movie that stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and is the true story of an Irish woman who searches for the illegitimate son she gave up for adoption in the U.S. I am hearing that The Weinstein Company is in exclusive negotiations for the pic for U.S., Canada and Spain distribution rights, this after Focus Features stepped out of the bidding. The wild part: the bidding is based on a morning screening of partial footage to domestic buyers, and the action is currently at $6.5 million for a film said to cost around $18 million. That is a shockingly high number for a teaser reel, but everyone I spoke to who saw it was knocked out. The pic is being sold directly by Pathe’s Muriel Sauzay, and a deal could make this evening even as everybody heads off to movies and dinner parties.
Buyers saw several things here today. At the same time as Philomena screened so did Diana, the Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed biopic with Naomi Watts and Naveen Andrews about Princess Diana’s romance with a Pakistani surgeon just before her death. Another was the Kevin Macdonald-directed How I Live Now, as well as scenes from Jane Got A Gun, the indie Western that is finally on track with Gavin O’Connor directing Natalie Portman, Noah Emmerich, Joel Edgerton and Ewan McGregor.
If the Philomena deal makes, Weinstein will add it to an already fat awards-season schedule that includes so far Sundance winner Fruitvale Station, August: Osage County with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, Long Walk To Freedom with Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela, the Lee Daniels-directed The Butler, Grace Of Monaco with Nicole Kidman and the Shane Salerno-directed documentary Salinger.