UPDATE, 1:07 PM: I am now being told that 99 Homes will not try for Oscars this year. Broad Green will release it next spring and try for Oscar season 2015.
EXCLUSIVE: One of the final marquee titles at the Toronto Film Festival is now spoken for, as the Ramin Bahrani-directed 99 Homes has been acquired by upstart Broad Green Pictures in a big $3 million deal for U.S. rights, with a P&A commitment. This is the latest new player in the indie distribution stratosphere that has made its statement by acquiring a high-profile Toronto film. I’m told that in the deal, international rights stay with Hyde Park, which financed the hot-button pic with ImageNation. While Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon have by all accounts turned in Oscar-caliber performances, the film will be released in the spring. CAA brokered the deal.
The film’s set in Orlando, where construction worker Nash (Garfield) is evicted from his home by charismatic, gun-toting real-estate broker Carver (Shannon) and forced to move his mom (Laura Dern) and young son into a shabby motel. Carver seduces Nash into a risky world of stealing from banks and the government. Nash makes big money, but there’s a cost. On Carver’s orders, Nash must evict honest families from their homes – just as it happened to him – and will have to choose between destroying an honest man for the ultimate win or going against Carver and finding redemption.
The film premiered last Monday night at Toronto. It made its World Premiere at Venice and also played at Telluride, which nixed it from a slot to start Toronto. This deal would have been brokered earlier had that not happened, but the bidding was fast and furious here, despite an ask by the pic’s backers that it open in this year’s Oscar mix. They’ve decided not to do that, but the temptation is understandable, based on what my colleague Pete Hammond wrote after he saw it in Telluride. Pete wrote: “Here comes that five-letter word you hate so much, studios — drama that also could be a commercial powerhouse. Few films I have seen in recent years have cut so close to the bone as this one does. Americans, in particular, will respond strongly, and if ever there was a word-of-mouth movie, this is it.”
Bahrani co-wrote the script, and Ashok Amritraj, Bahrani, Kevin Turen and Justin Nappi, are producing. Laura Dern and Noah Lomax.
“I’m very happy to partner with Broad Green Pictures. Their passion and plan for this film felt like the perfect way to bring it to the U.S.,” said Bahrani. “What excited me the most was to see that audiences’ reactions in all the festivals was so tremendous. Their passionate and visceral reaction convinced all of us that the country needs and wants to see a film like this. I’m thrilled to have such committed partners to make sure this film reaches a very wide audience.”
BGP Chief Creative Officer Daniel Hammond, speaking on behalf of Broad Green stated, “We are so excited to have the opportunity to support the incredible message behind the vision of a world class filmmaker and the performances of Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon. Broad Green could not be more excited to share this film with as wide of an audience as possible and create real world changes for the themes it represents.”