Buyers and sellers are asking what’s the deal with the slow pace of acquisitions here at Toronto. We’ve seen this before, in years where there isn’t an obvious must-have title that causes buyers to spend drunkenly trying to outbid one another. I do not believe that this will be like that year during the indie crash where A Single Man was the sole festival sale; don’t bet on the notion that the only acquisition title to get a deal here is Madame Bovary’s Millennium pact. Offers are in for the Samuel L. Jackson-starrer Big Game; multiple offers are on the table for the Chris Rock comedy Top Five, after the glitzy Saturday evening premiere for a film that was produced by Scott Rudin and Barry Diller through their IAC label, with Kanye West and Jay Z co-producers. Rudin and Diller’s other Saturday premiere, the Noah Baumbach-directed While We’re Young, also has buyers crunching the numbers. They’re telling me they’ve seen some fine films, but each one leaves questions about commercial viability. Is Big Game too tame to hit Sam Jackson’s core audience? Is Rock’s comedy platform or wide release or prestige, or is it a tweener? Baumbach’s film is getting high marks as his most commercial outing yet, but does that mean it’s a prestige release or worth a shot at a wide release? I expect the deals to start flying today, tonight or tomorrow latest, and I thinks this careful deliberation by buyers is not a bad thing for anybody but the backers trying to recoup and cash out. Even the agents brokering the deals will tell you it’s better to place the movie with the distributor that can do the most to get the movie seen, than simply taking the biggest upfront check from a distributor whose team caught festival fever and then doesn’t follow through.
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