Paramount made the biggest deal of the just-finished Toronto Film Festival with the pickup of the Chris Rock-directed and -starring Top Five. The comedy got a raucous reaction at its TIFF premiere, and had a line of distributors bidding up the film until Brad Grey’s studio took it off the table paying $12.5 million. Now Paramount wants to get it in theaters this year: it has just set a December 5 limited release date with plans to open it wide December 12.
Top Five’s cast includes Rosario Dawson, J.B.Smoove, Gabrielle Union, and comics Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, Kevin Hart, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg and Jay Pharoah in a movie about a standup comic-turned-movie star. Jay-Z and Kanye West are in producing capacities, and Scott Rudin and Barry Diller also backed the pic.
The feeling from those who saw it is that Rock has turned a major corner as a storyteller and star, and this film positions the iconic stand-up comic to become a major film making voice in the tradition of Albert Brooks and Woody Allen. Distributors bidding included Sony, Fox Searchlight, Open Road, A24, Relativity and Lionsgate.