A combination of star vehicles and high-octane action pics dominate our 2019 list of hot AFM market debuts.
Several glossy packages have come together in the last week: Channing Tatum is playing an Army Ranger with a canine buddy in road-trip comedy Dog; Rachel Weisz will star as Elizabeth Taylor in activism-focused tale A Special Relationship; Zac Efron is tracking John McAfee in the jungle in comedy King Of The Jungle; and Jessica Chastain will play a tormented artist in Losing Clementine. The market now looks well-stocked with titles that should pique buyers’ interest.
Last year, our AFM list had 3/24 projects with female directors, and it’s the exact same stat this year on our 25-strong roster (one project, The Plane, doesn’t have a director attached), so no improvement there.
True stories seem to be in vogue. The Efron pic is based on a Wired article, Pathe has an art heist true story with The Duke, Bill Skarsgard plays a man who murdered his banker father in Gilded Rage, and Benedict Cumberbatch will also depict a real-life figure when he plays the titular Brit artist in Louis Wain.
Below, we profile a selection of the buzziest projects on offer at the Loews this year.
HOT MARKET DEBUTS
Dog – Channing Tatum is playing an Army Ranger in this road-trip comedy that will also mark the actor’s directing debut. He’s co-helming with regular partner Reid Carolin from a screenplay written by the pair with Brett Rodriguez, which follows Tatum’s Briggs, who with his canine companion Lulu drives the Pacific Coast to catch their best friend’s funeral. Tatum and Carolin also produce through their banner Free Association with Gregory Jacobs. FilmNation is handling international sales and co-repping China with CAA, the latter is on domestic. Read our story about the project
King Of The Jungle – Zac Efron stars in this comedy from Crazy, Stupid, Love filmmakers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. The story is based on a Wired article about tech magnate John McAfee, who cashed-in his fortune, left civilization and moved to the jungle in Belize. Efron will play a journalist who finds himself pulled into McAfee’s escalating paranoia, slippery reality and murder. MadRiver International is on sales, and STX Films was in talks for domestic rights at the time of going to press. Read our story
Losing Clementine – Jessica Chastain takes on the role of a tormented artist in this pic based on Ashley Ream’s debut novel. Argentine filmmaker Lucía Puenzo is directing the story of a world-renowned artist who decides she’s done with it all and gives herself 31 days to tie up loose ends. Sierra/Affinity is on international sales and CAA is handling domestic. Read our story
A Special Relationship – Rachel Weisz will play Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor in this pic from female directing duo Bert & Bertie and UK-Australia producers See-Saw. Slumdog Millionaire scribe Simon Beaufoy wrote the screenplay, which will chronicle Taylor’s journey from actress to prominent activist. See-Saw’s in-house sales arm Cross City Films is on sales. Read our story
Cash Truck – Action flicks are usually buzzy fare at AFM and this is an exciting one. Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham are re-teaming on this thriller about a man responsible for moving hundreds of millions of dollars around Los Angeles each week. Also starring are Scott Eastwood and Holy McCallany. Miramax CEO Bill Block and Ivan Atkinson are producing the project and the company is handling sales at AFM. Read our story
Hypnotic – Robert Rodriguez is helming this big budget action thriller about a detective who becomes entangled in a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program, while investigating a string of impossible high-end heists. Studio 8 and Solstice Studios will produce the film under a new strategic partnership, with Solstice spearheading U.S. distribution and international sales. Read our story
Inferno – Taylor Kitsch will play a cop who is called to investigate a seemingly ordinary murder in the New Mexico desert but stumbles upon something bigger in Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi thriller. AGC Studios is on sales, with CAA co-repping domestic and China rights. Read our story
The Card Counter – Oscar Isaac leads the cast of Paul Schrader’s next movie, which follows a gambler and former serviceman who sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy from their past. Shoot is set for early 2020 on the pic, which HanWay Films is handling at AFM. Read our story
Prisoner 760 – Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Shailene Woodley and Benedict Cumberbatch form the starry cast of this Kevin Macdonald-directed story of a man who is captured by the U.S. government and languishes in prison without charge or trial before he finds an ally in a defense attorney. STXinterational is handling international rights at AFM and will distribute in the UK and Ireland, UTA and 30West co-rep the U.S. sale. Read our story
Louis Wain – Another Benedict Cumberbatch pic but a different vibe, the actor will star with Claire Foy in this biopic of the titular English artist who lived between 1860-1939 and is best known for his drawings of cats. Emerging talent Will Sharpe is helming. Studiocanal will release in its territories (UK, France Germany, Australia/NZ) and is selling international. Amazon will release in the U.S. Read our story
Gilded Rage – Christoph Waltz, Lily Collins and Bill Skarsgard lead the cast of this story about the real-life murder of a Manhattan hedge fund manager. Charlie McDowell is directing and producers include Riva Marker and Jake Gyllenhaal under their banner Nine Stories, with XYZ FIlms, which is also on sales. ICM Partners and Endeavor Content are co-repping domestic rights. Read our story
Every Breath You Take – Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan and Sam Claflin are starring in this thriller from Sunshine Cleaning director Christine Jeffs. Affleck will play a psychiatrist whose career is thrown into jeopardy when his patient takes her own life. 13 Films is handling global rights. Read our story
The Last Drop – Vince Vaughn and Sharon Horgan lead this romance for Ramy filmmaker Christopher Storer and 21 Laps. Pic follows a culinary show host whose party lifestyle is getting the better of him until he encounters a spirited woman who owns an antique shop. Endeavor Content is handling worldwide sales. Read our story
Leo From Toledo – Mel Gibson and Frank Grillo star in Joe Carnahan’s thriller about a former Kansas City mob hitman who comes out of witness protection to protect his estranged daughter and granddaughter. MadRiver International is on international sales, CAA is repping domestic. Read our story
The Plane – Genre mainstay Gerard Butler is leading this elevated thriller about a commercial pilot who lands his storm-damaged aircraft in a war zone and must protect its passengers from multiple militia. MadRiver International is handling sales, CAA is on domestic. Read our story
The Asset – Michael Keaton, Samuel L Jackson and Maggie Q lead the cast of this thriller from The Foreigner and Casino Royale director Martin Campbell and The Expendables outfit Millennium Media, which is handling sales. Movie follows two of the world’s premier assassins who share a mysterious past from Vietnam. Read our story
The Duke – Oscar-winning duo Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren star with Fionn Whitehead in this art heist comedy from director Roger Michell. Based on a true story, the movie tells of a 60-year-old taxi driver who, in 1961, stole a Goya painting from the National Gallery in London. Production is set to get underway in January. Pathé is on sales and will distribute in the UK, France and Switzerland. Read our story
Son – Andi Matichak, who broke out in the recent Halloween reboot, stars with Emile Hirsch in this horror from director Ivan Kavanagh. Pic follows a mother who escaped from a demonic cult as a child. Her past catches up with her as its members infect her young son with an insidious disease that has a terrifying cure. Altitude is handling sales. Read our story
Seance – Suki Waterhouse plays a young woman who arrives at an all-girls boarding school following one of the student’s untimely and violent death in this horror from director Simon Barrett. Dark Castle and HanWay Films are among the producers and those two companies are holding worldwide rights. Read our story
Untitled Russell Crowe horror – It may not have a name, but this meta genre pic is an intriguing prospect nonetheless. Russell Crowe will play a troubled actor who begins to unravel while shooting a horror film. Joshua John Miller and M.A. Fortin are directing from their original script. The project is the first to come through Miramax’s deal with Scream producer Kevin Williamson, with Miramax also on sales. Read our story
A War Of Their Own – Oscar and Palme d’Or-winning Danish director Bille August helms this historical drama about two of the first women to serve as ambulance drivers on the front lines during WWI. The director is teaming with U.S. producer David Brown’s fledgling outfit Clear Horizon, which will co-produce and handle world sales at AFM. Read our story
Here Today – Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish top this comedy, which Crystal is also directing. Pic started shooting last month in New York. It follows a veteran comedy writer who is losing his grip on reality until he forms an unlikely bond with a New York street singer. Rocket Science is handling international sales and CAA is on domestic. Read our story
Falling For Figaro – Patti Cake$ actress Danielle Macdonald and Joanna Lumley star in this rom-com set in the world of opera. The Sessions director Ben Lewin helms the story of a hedge fund manager who decides to leave her unfulfilling job and long-term boyfriend to chase her lifelong dream of becoming an opera singer in the Scottish Highlands. WestEnd Films is handling world sales. Read our story
Airborne – The second plane-themed thriller on this list, Baywatch actress Alexandra Daddario stars as a flight attendant who faces a mid-flight pandemic and must contain the infected passengers and land the aircraft safely. Zak Hilditch is directing. XYZ Films is on international sales, with Endeavor Content on domestic. Read our story
Geechee – Andrea Riseborough plays a successful New York scientist who decides to leave the city with her son to start life over in the remote Sea Islands off the Atlantic Coast in this feature debut from writer-director Dubois Ashong. She quickly falls in love with the land and the people on the secluded island, but soon her world starts to unravel as the souls of the subjugated begin to haunt her dreams and her waking life. AGC Studios is financing, producing and repping sales, with CAA co-repping domestic. Read our story