In a deal that sources peg at north of $5 million, Paramount Pictures has made its second major acquisition of an otherwise dull Toronto Film Festival. The studio that just made a $10 million U.S. rights pre-buy deal based on promo footage of the Meryl Streep-Hugh Grant comedy Florence Foster Jenkins, has closed a deal for the stop-motion pic Anomalisa, directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. They are going to release it December 30 in New York and Los Angeles and roll it out after that.
The pursuit of this one was brisk, with A24 and Sony Pictures Classics among those in the hunt. The film has really snuck up on people and wasn’t heralded before it made a splash in Venice, where it won the Grand Jury Prize. The deal was made as it played in Toronto in the Special Presentations category. It was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign and is the second movie at Toronto to gain traction coming from those origins, with the first-person POV Midnight film Hardcore close to a deal with several suitors bidding last night for a wide-screen release. CAA and WME Global brokered the deal with attorney Erik Hyman. Hanway is handling international.
Paramount has increasingly relied on the festivals to put films on its slate, while the studio overhauls itself internally because it just hasn’t been generating enough of its own movies. The studio paid premiums to pre-buy at $20 million the Denis Villenueve-directed Story Of Your Life at Cannes, which stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. Last Toronto, Paramount paid between $12.5 million and $15 million for the Chris Rock-directed Top Five. Who could turn down such exuberance, when Paramount is giving prestige films the full studio treatment and wide releases?
Said Paramount chairman and CEO Brad Grey: “The film is a spectacular achievement of artistry, one that we are incredibly pleased to be a part of. Charlie is a filmmaker of immense vision and craft and he and Duke have created a film that stands alone as one of the year’s best.”
Said Kaufman, Johnson and producer Rosa Tran: “Anomalisa has been a three-year labor of love and we are thrilled the film has now found a home at Paramount with people who are passionate about the film and are committed to sharing it with the world.”
The logline: Michael Stone, husband, father and respected author of “How May I Help You Help Them?,” is a man crippled by the mundanity of his life. On a business trip to Cincinnati, where he’s scheduled to speak at a convention of customer service professionals, he checks into the Fregoli Hotel. There, he is amazed to discover a possible escape from his desperation in the form of an unassuming Akron baked goods sales rep, Lisa, who may or may not be the love of his life.