EXCLUSIVE: A brisk Friday night of hardball culminated in The Weinstein Company making the biggest minimum guarantee deal of the Cannes Film Festival, and one of the biggest in several years at the festival. TWC ended the night — try 5 AM — closing a $6 million acquisition deal for the Gaby Dellal-directed Three Generations. Buyers responded strongly yesterday to a 10-minute promo reel of the film starring Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning and Susan Sarandon as the title characters. The bidding began immediately and stretched into the evening before TWC emerged triumphant. Fanning plays a New York teenager who wants to transition from female to male. Watts is her single mother and Sarandon her lesbian music-manager grandmother. The deal, which calls for a 500-minimum screen commitment, was brokered by CAA and ICM Partners. Big Beach’s Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf financed the film and produced it with Dorothy Berwin.
It’s TWC’s second splashy Cannes acquisition, after the Jonathan Jacubowicz-directed Hands Of Stone, the boxing film that stars Edgar Ramirez and Robert De Niro.
This followed a Lionsgate deal for By Way Of Helena and another headed that way with the same distributor for A Hologram For The King, both around $3 million. This after Lionsgate days ago teamed with Roadside Attractions to acquire tonight’s premiere, the Gus Van Sant-directed Sea of Trees. And then Alchemy was reported to be closing a deal on the Gaspar Noe-directed racy threesome film Love.
Meanwhile, the film that buyers covet most is Nocturnal Animals, an adaptation Tom Ford scripted of the Austin Wright novel Tony And Susan, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams starring. Though he hasn’t shot a frame yet, the fashion icon and director of A Single Man made a strong impression on the buying crowd as he laid out his plans. From what I’m told, his busy CAA reps could right now sell this for a healthy 8-figures, but so far buyers tell me they’ve been told that’s not what Ford wants to do. He has the wherewithal to fund the modest-budget film himself if he wants to, and right now he is reluctant to tie down the domestic rights. At this point, the thinking is that Ford might make some offshore deals to cover part of the budget, and then come back and make a domestic deal later on. That would likely only strengthen his hand, as buyers believe he is the real deal and so is his film.
Now that some of the big titles are spoken for, I expect this healthy pace of deal-making to continue. There is a lot of good product here and distributors hungry for it, including commercial films like The Circle, which stars Tom Hanks and Ex Machina‘s Alicia Vikander, and Message From The King, which stars Get On Up‘s Chadwick Boseman. Buyers are opening their wallets — but they are not spending drunkenly which is important in keeping this robust indie film surge going — and it should stay that way until those distributors leave early next week, and beyond.
ICM Partners reps Dellal.