EXCLUSIVE: Netflix continues to set the tone for the 2020 Toronto Film Festival Market. Deadline hears that the streamer is wrapping up a deal near $30 million for worldwide rights to Malcolm & Marie, a Sam Levinson-directed romantic drama that stars Zendaya and John David Washington. This follows the around $20 million Netflix deal for the Halle Berry-directed Bruised, the fest’s first major deal made before the film’s premiere. Netflix yesterday acquired Pieces Of A Woman, which won the Best Actress prize for Vanessa Kirby at Venice.
Shot quietly during the production lockdown on 35mm in black and white with help from Fotokem, Malcolm & Marie was the first post-pandemic film to complete production. There was a stampede for this one, and I’m told that others in the mix were HBO, Amazon, Searchlight, MGM, Apple, A24 and Focus Features. While the pandemic seemed likely to throw a wet blanket over a TIFF because most buyers and sellers can’t cross the Canadian border, the market is turning out to be livelier than last year.
Deadline reported in our Toronto curtain raiser that CAA Media Finance and Endeavor Content had screened promo footage on the film for buyers late last week. Sources said the promo reel was about 20 minutes. Washington plays a filmmaker who returns home with his girlfriend (Zendaya) following a celebratory movie premiere as he awaits what’s sure to be imminent critical and financial success. The evening suddenly takes a turn as revelations about their relationships begin to surface, testing the strength of their love.
Malcolm & Marie filmed June 17-July 2 at Feldman Architecture’s Caterpillar House, an environmentally conscious glass architectural marvel in Carmel, CA, in compliance with WGA, DGA and SAG-AFTRA, and extensive COVID-19 safety protocols.
The film came about after Levinson and Zendaya were told their series Euphoria had to shut down. The actress asked Levinson if he would write and direct a movie with her during quarantine. The concept came through quickly as did the script, and they focused on Washington, the fast rising star of BlackKklansman and Tenet.
Netflix confirmed the deal and director, writer and producer Levinson said he was “so grateful to this cast and crew, many of whom are my Euphoria family, for coming together during such uncertain times. We felt privileged to be able to make this film together and we did so with a lot of love. We are all thrilled that it has ended up with Netflix which is unparalleled in allowing filmmakers the freedom to tell their stories that reach audiences all over the world.”
Pic’s produced by Levinson, Kevin Turen and Ashley Levinson of Little Lamb Productions — who are producers on Pieces Of A Woman, which Netflix acquired yesterday. The exec producers are Zendaya, John David Washington, Yariv Milchan, Michael Schaefer, Will Greenfield, Aaron L. Gilbert and Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi). The co-exec producers are Harrison Kreiss, Katia Washington, Stuart Manashil and Kenneth Yu. The DP is Marcell Rév, Michael Grasley is the production designer, Julio C. Perez IV is the editor and Law Roach & Samantha McMillen are the costume designers.
The cast and crew of Malcom & Marie will share a portion of the proceeds of this sale with Feeding America. The film was shot at a modest budget and some of the key below the liners made deals that profit off the back end. The big sale will make that a reality and a big help for a time that work is difficult to find.
Zendaya is repped by CAA, Monster Talent Management and Skrzyniarz & Mallean; John David Washington is repped by WME; Sam Levinson is repped by WME and Novo.
The deal was closed by Endeavor Content and CAA Media Finance, brokering together.