2ND UPDATE, 7:03 PM PT: Paramount has confirmed Deadline’s earlier scoop, saying in a press release that the studio has picked up the Amy Adams sci-fi pic Story Of Your Life. It was the first big auction at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Read the full release at the bottom of the original post.
UPDATE, 4:29 PM PT: It’s all over but the press release as Paramount has prevailed in the first big auction on the ground at the Cannes Film Festival. The studio is paying $20 million for U.S. and Canada on Story Of Your Life, and there is discussion about China as well. This is a clear record deal brokered by Lava Bear’s David Linde with WME Global’s Graham Taylor and FilmNation’s Glen Basner. The latter was also in the middle of the $7 million Berlin deal with TWC for The Imitation Game, which was a record setter for that festival. So forgive these guys if they are strutting big on the Croisette today. This certainly marks an outstanding start for the Cannes market, as distributors clearly need product and are willing to spend if it’s good stuff.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 3:29 PM PT: Prognosticators have said this Cannes might be light on deals. It isn’t starting out that way. A wild auction on the eve of the festival for the Denis Villeneuve-directed Amy Adams sci-fi film Story Of Your Life had five studios battling. It looks like it is down to Paramount and Universal, and that when the dealing’s done, it could go for $20 million, primarily for North American rights, which has got to be a record for the Cannes film market. Not a bad way to start a festival where there are plenty of bidders with money to spend, and doesn’t seem to be nearly enough blue-chip properties. Story Of Your Life is clearly an exception.
Villenueve, coming off Prisoners and Incendies, will direct an adaptation of a prize-winning Ted Chiang short story, scripted by Eric Heisserer. Adams will play a linguist who is tasked by the military with opening a dialogue with aliens whose crafts have landed on earth. Are they here to make friends, or take over?
This was expected to be one of the sexier pre-buy titles to hit the Croisette, and it’s being sold by WME Global’s Graham Taylor and FilmNation’s Glen Basner, with Lava Bear’s David Linde and Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps producing it. Right away, the ask was around $18 million, but when there are five major studios battling, that minimum guarantee number inevitably escalates. Stay tuned as this one wraps up. None of the principals were commenting at this point.
Here is Paramount’s release:
HOLLYWOOD, CA – May 14, 2014 – Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom, Inc., announced today it has acquired U.S., Canadian and China distribution rights to the feature film STORY OF YOUR LIFE from director Denis Villeneuve and starring Academy Award®-nominee Amy Adams.
FilmNation Entertainment, in partnership with Lava Bear Films, is financing, producing and handling additional worldwide sales for the project. 21 Laps’ Shawn Levy and Dan Levine are producing with FilmNation and Lava Bear Films. FilmNation will handle international sales of the film and is making it available to buyers at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, beginning today. The studio is expected to release the film in 2016.
Villeneuve directs the sci-fi thriller from a new draft of a script by Eric Heisserer, who will also executive produce. From the award-winning short story by Ted Chiang, one of today’s most celebrated science fiction writers, the film is centered on the landing of alien crafts around the world, and the expert linguist (Adams), who is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat.
“Denis is an enormously talented filmmaker, with an innate ability to make very broad and entertaining films that are also deeply personal and character driven. And Amy is someone we have long admired, from our earlier experience together on THE FIGHTER and seeing therange of rolls she’s tackled since, we are just thrilled to be working with her again,” said Adam Goodman, President of Paramount’s Film Group. “This is an exciting project and seeing the incredible talent that was drawn to it, and knowing we would be getting the chance to partner again with Glen and his team at FilmNation, along with Shawn and David, it became a priority for us to get involved.”
In a joint statement, Lava Bear’s David Linde and FilmNation’s Glen Basner said, “Paramount’s appreciation for everything about this project was immediately impressive and we are thrilled to have found our domestic home with them.”
“There is something so special about this project that attracted such rare talents as Amy Adams and Denis Villeneuve. Together, we see a film that is as conceptually complex as it is emotionally resonant and wecouldn’t be happier that Paramount shares our passion for it,” said 21 Laps producers Levy and Levine.
Villeneuve most recently directed PRISONERS starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal as well as INCENDIES which was nominated for an AcademyAward® for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011.
Adams most recently starred in the Academy Award®-nominated films AMERICAN HUSTLE and HER, and will next been seen in BIG EYES.
FilmNation’s Aaron Ryder and Karen Lunder will oversee production along with Tory Metzger on behalf of Lava Bear Films, and Levine and Dan Cohen at 21 Laps. Paramount Pictures’ acquisition executive Eben Davidson brought the project into the studio.