The halls are starting to hum softly here in Berlin as the European Film Market swings into gear. The first deals were announced yesterday before the event officially opened, with The Weinstein Co notably boarding IM Global’s The Man Who Made It Snow. This morning, FilmNation unveiled a series of offshore output deals for titles from Open Road, which will kick off with the Jamie Foxx/Michelle Monaghan-starrer Sleepless Nights.
Though it’s not likely to be a frenzy, and with currency concerns in the market internationally, Berlin should see more action in the coming days. Distributors are looking for product for 2016 and beyond, and some memorable buys have emerged here in recent years. In 2014, The Weinstein Company made a record-setting $7M deal for The Imitation Game which has now made about $140M worldwide and has an armful of Oscar nominations to boot.
Much of the pre-buy buzz in and around Potsdamer Platz this year centers on movies like the Mel Gibson-directed Hacksaw Ridge and Matthew McConaughey-starrer Gold. On the finished film side, there could be some heat on official selection titles like Werner Herzog’s just-screened Queen Of The Desert, or Anton Corbijn’s James Dean-themed pic Life. Berlin certainly served up some enduring gems last year with both Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel becoming major factors in awards season.
Below is a selection, from various areas of the festival and market, of some of the titles that are on buyers’ radar :
HACKSAW RIDGE – Director: Mel Gibson; Cast: Andrew Garfield. The true story of Desmond T Doss, a U.S. Army medic who served in World War II during the Battle of Okinawa and refused to kill. President Truman made him the first conscientious objector ever awarded the Medal of Honor. CAA and IM Global are selling with deals understood to already have closed in some markets.
GOLD – Director-writer: Stephen Gaghan; Cast: Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey plays a failing businessman who teams with a scientist/explorer to head into the Indonesian jungle on the trail of undiscovered troves of gold. Based on a true story about the 1993 Bre-X Mineral Corporation mining scandal. CAA and Sierra/Affinity are brokering.
QUEEN OF THE DESERT – Director-writer: Werner Herzog; Cast: Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson. This competition title stars Kidman as Gertrude Bell, the Lawrence of Arabia of female diplomats and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the 20th century. CAA and Sierra/Affinity are brokering the pic that bowed today.
WAKE – Director: John Pogue; Cast: Bruce Willis, Ben Kingsley. The project has Willis as a man who returns home for his brother’s wake on a remote island that comes under siege during his stay. IFT is brokering.
ARMY OF ONE – Director: Larry Charles; Cast: Nicolas Cage. The bizarre true tale of Gary Faulkner’s mission to single-handedly hunt down Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. TWC-Dimension already has North America. FilmNation is selling international with shooting due to start in Q1.
MESSAGE FROM THE KING – Director: Farbice du Welz; Cast: Chadwick Boseman. In pre-production, the revenge thriller has Boseman as a South African man who arrives in LA in search of his younger sister. When he learns she’s been killed after his first 24 hours, the film tells the story of what happens in the next six days. WME is repping.
UNTITLED JOEL EDGERTON PROJECT – Director: Joel Edgerton; Cast: Edgerton, Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall. From Jason Blum’s Blumhouse, this is Edgerton’s helming debut and is in pre-prod. The thriller sees a couple tormented by a bully from the husband’s past. Sierra/Affinity is handling as part of its new deal with Blum.
NOVEMBER CRIMINALS – Director: Sacha Gervasi, Cast: Ansel Elgort, Chloë Grace Moretz, Catherine Keener. The story follows two teenagers into the dangerous underbelly of Washington DC as they investigate the murder of their friend while falling in love for the first time. CAA and WME co-rep domestic; international sales are with Lotus.
BONJOUR, ANNE – Director-writer: Eleanor Coppola; Cast: Diane Lane, Yvan Attal, Nicolas Cage. A big-time producer’s wife takes an invigorating road trip through France. Shoots in May. Coppola was nominated for an Emmy for her 1991 documentary Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, about the making of husband Francis’ Apocalypse Now. This is her narrative feature debut. Sales are with Protagonist.
AMY – Director: Asif Kapadia. Senna helmer Kapadia looks at the late Amy Winehouse’s life and career. Cinetic and Sunray Films are handling sales. It screened for select buyers today with good buzz.
YOUTH – Director-writer: Paolo Sorrentino, Cast: Rachel Weisz; Michael Caine, Paul Dano, Harvey Keitel. Oscar winner Sorrentino returns to the English-language with this drama about two old friends on vacation in the Alps. Pathé is selling and this title could be Cannes-bound.
THREE SECONDS – Director: Otto Bathurst; Cast: Luke Evans. Evans just boarded as a man forced undercover in prison as part of an FBI operation, then has to escape on his own after being abandoned during the mission. Bloom has foreign sales; WME and CAA are co-repping domestic.
KNIGHT OF CUPS – Director-writer: Terrence Malick, Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman. Malick returns with a story of temptations, celebrity, and excess. Bale plays Rick who is navigating those facets of the Hollywood fast-life, questioning who he’s become. CAA and FilmNation are repping the Competition title.
DEEP WATER – Director: James Marsh; Cast: Colin Firth. Based on the true story of amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst and his attempt to win the first around-the-world yacht race in 1968. This is a recently announced Studiocanal title.
BRAIN ON FIRE – Director-writer: Gerard Barrett; Cast: Dakota Fanning, Will Poulter. Based on the true story of a young woman’s sudden descent into insanity as a result of a mysterious illness. Principal photography starts in May. WME and Mister Smith are repping.
MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA – Director-writer: Kenneth Lonergan; Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams. Matt Damon is producing the story of Lee, who is granted custody of his teenage nephew after his brother dies. As they both adjust to their new lives, Lee struggles with the many ghosts of his past. Production starts in March. Sierra/Affinity has sales.
MR RIGHT – Director: Paco Cabezas; Cast: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Tim Roth, Anson Mount. Hitman action romance sees Kendrick as a girl unlucky in love and Rockwell as the assassin she accidentally falls for. In post. CAA and Sierra/Affinity are selling.
13 MINUTES – Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel; Cast: Christian Friedel, Katharina Schüttler. An official out-of-competition world premiere from the director of Downfall, 13 Minutes is a Nazi-era drama about the resistance fighter who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the Munich Bürgerbräukeller on November 8, 1939. Beta is selling.
ALONE IN BERLIN – Director: Vincent Perez; Cast: Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl, Brendan Gleeson. The true story of a German couple whose son was killed at the front in WWII. They began a quiet rebellion by dropping anonymous postcards in mailboxes around Berlin that decried the actions of Adolf Hitler. Sales are with Sunray Films.
THE FOUNDER – Director: John Lee Hancock; Cast: Michael Keaton. Keaton is starring in the story of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc which FilmNation is getting off the ground.
45 YEARS – Director-writer: Andrew Haigh; Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay. Making preparations for their 45th wedding anniversary celebration, Kate and Geoff are rocked by news from the past. The body of Geoff’s girlfriend, who had a fatal accident in the Swiss Alps, has been discovered frozen in ice and time. Rights are with Match Factory. This screens tonight in Competition.
EYE IN THE SKY – Director: Gavin Hood; Cast: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi, Alan Rickman. Colin Firth is producing this thriller about a London-based military intelligence officer who is remotely commanding a top secret drone operation that aims to capture a group of terrorists in Nairobi. EOne is selling.
FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS – Director: Stephen Frears; Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant. The biopic about the real-life New York heiress and socialite who coveted a career as a great opera singer, but who lacked any real ability, sold well internationally for Pathé at AFM.
MISS YOU ALREADY – Director: Catherine Hardwicke; Cast: Toni Collette, Drew Barrymore, Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine, Tyson Ritter. Two best friends see their lifelong relationship tested when one struggles to have a baby and the other finds out she has breast cancer. CAA and The Salt Company are brokering; Salt is showing a five-minute promo.
SKIPTRACE – Director: Renny Harlin; Cast: Jackie Chan, Fan Bing Bing, Johnny Knoxville. Set in China, the Midnight Run-like action comedy has Chan as a Hong Kong detective who teams with a mouthy American gambler to save his niece and take down the city’s most notorious criminal. Shooting recently wrapped. Sales are with WME and Bloom.
CONSIDER YOURSELF – Director: Vadim Jean; Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Michelle Dockery, Stephen Fry, Olivia Colman. Rush plays Oliver! composer-lyricist Lionel Bart, who became the first person to have three West End musicals running at once. Film will chart his rise and fall. Good Universe reps.
OUR KIND OF TRAITOR – Director: Susanna White; Cast: Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgard. Adapted from the John LeCarré novel by Hossein Amini, the thriller sets an English couple on a tortuous journey after a chance meeting with a Russian oligarch. UTA, Studiocanal are repping.
THE BENDS – Director: Jean Luc Herbulot; Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike. A diving adventure opens old wounds for an ex-Marine. In pre-production, WME and Sierra/Affinity are selling.
LIFE – Director: Anton Corbijn; Cast: Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Joel Edgerton. Control helmer Corbijn examines the relationship between James Dean and Life Magazine photographer Dennis Stock whose portraits led to the iconization of Dean. CAA, WME, and FilmNation have sales for the Special Gala presentation here.
THE WIFE – Director: Bjorn Runge; Cast: Glenn Close, Frances McDormand, Britt Marling, Logan Lerman. In English and Swedish, the adaptation of Meg Wolitzer’s novel is a drama about a married couple whose relationship falls apart on their way to the Nobel Prize ceremony as a startling secret is laid bare. Shoots in the fall. WME, CAA, and Embankment are selling.
EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE – Director: Wim Wenders; Cast: James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Charlotte Gainsbourg. Franco plays a writer who spends 12 years trying to give his life meaning again after causing the accidental death of a young boy. The pic screens in Competition on Tuesday, but is not competing. Sales are with Hanway.
GO WITH ME – Director: Daniel Alfredson; Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles, Ray Liotta, Alexander Ludwig, Hal Holbrook. A modern fable set in the Pacific Northwest logging community about a young woman who enlists the help of a former logger to help her face off with a stalker. Sales are with UTA and Electric.
LOUDER THAN BOMBS – Director-writer: Joachim Trier; Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne. In his English-language debut, Oslo, August 31 director Trier focuses on Gene and his two sons, three years after the death of their wife and mother. The three grapple with contrasting memories of the woman who influenced their lives so profoundly. Memento Films International has rights and is screening footage for select buyers.
SPOOKS: THE GREATER GOOD – Director: Bharat Nalluri; Cast: Kit Harington, Peter Firth, Jennifer Ehle. Harington plays an ex-MI5 operative brought back in by Ehle’s deputy chief to uncover how a terrorist escaped custody during a routine handover. Screening in the market. The UK’s Altitude is on sales.
THE DRESSMAKER – Director-writer: Jocelyn Moorhouse; Cast: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth. The adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s eponymous novel stars Winslet as an avenging angel who returns home to rural Australia where she liberates and empowers the town’s women with her quick wit and beautiful clothing. CAA and Embankment are brokering and screening footage.
FREEHELD – Director: Peter Sollett; Cast: Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon, Steve Carell. Based on the 2007 documentary about Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree, who fought to amend the Domestic Partnership Act, which grants pension benefits to domestic partners of all New Jersey public employees. CAA and Bankside are repping.
JADOTVILLE – Director: Richie Smyth; Cast: Jamie Dornan, Guillaume Canet. Centered on a stand-off between Irish troops and French and Belgian Mercenaries in the Congo during in the early 1960s. UTA and Bloom have this one.
THIS MAN, THIS WOMAN – Director: Isabel Coixet; Cast: Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger. An estranged man and woman encounter each other by chance on a plane, and relive memories of their turbulent romantic relationship. Coixet’s Nobody Wants The Night opened the festival on Thursday. CAA is on domestic, Fortitude has foreign.
UNLOCKED – Director: Michael Apted; Cast: Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, John Malkovich, Michael Douglas. Rapace plays CIA interrogator Alice Racine in this female Jason Bourne-style thriller. Sales are with CAA and Bloom which closed several territories at the AFM.
YOGA HOSERS – Director-writer: Kevin Smith, Cast: Johnny Depp, Justin Long. Depp and Smith’s daughters play yoga obsessives who team with a man-hunter when an evil presence threatens their invitation to a senior party. Sales and handled by WME and XYZ which is screening footage.
BARTON & CHARLIE – Director-writer: Rupert Friend; Cast: Friend, Emily Blunt. Homeland’s Friend makes his directorial debut and stars in the story of a down-on-his-luck con-artist who meets a woman who he offers to teach the tricks of his trade. She turns the tables on him and they embark on a road trip, along with a 10-year old Mexican boy. CAA and Fortitude International are selling.