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Post by Admin on Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:28 pm

Posted: Thurs., Sep. 9, 2010, 4:00am PT
Festive Toronto could generate business
New headquarters, plenty of available pics light up fest

Toronto Film Festival

Nu Image/Millennium could see business at the fest for 'Trust.'
'Everything Must Go'

IM Global’s 'Everything Must Go,' starring Will Ferrell, is up for grabs.

From its shiny new downtown home, the Toronto Film Festival launches what may be its most ambitious edition tonight with a rousing chorus of "O Canada" ("Score: A Hockey Musical" on the Gala stage and Canuck cult pic "Fubar II" at midnight), which it hopes will mute the grousing and grumbling that preceded the event.

First came the phantom bedbug scare at Scotiabank Theater, the new main venue for press and industry screenings. It's handily located a few blocks from the fest's new host hotel, the Hyatt Regency, home of press and industry offices. Last week, hotel workers conducted a one-day strike last Friday, with props including a large inflatable rat.

As if that weren't enough, the online box office had a meltdown the night before single tickets were to go on sale, sending patrons to jammed phone lines or joining the legions standing in the rain on Friday to buy tickets at the fest's lone physical box office.

But the clouds lifted yesterday when Ivan Reitman, his sisters Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels and son Jason Reitman were on hand to christen the location of TIFF Bell Lightbox, the fest's year-round HQ as Reitman Square in honor of Leslie and Clara Reitman, who ran a car wash on the site years ago and kept the property in the family after retiring.

"Ivan, Agi and Susan's recognition of their parents' commitment and vision has played a vital role in the realization of this dream, building a home for film," festival CEO and director Piers Handling said.

While the Lightbox doesn't cut the ribbon until Sunday, when the site comes alive with a free daytime block party, industryites hitting Toronto today will soon know its vibrant, bistro-crammed downtown neighborhood, where most, if not all, of the fest's major screening, market and party action is within reasonable walking distance.

Many U.S. buyers and foreign sales companies are wasting no time in setting up shop downtown and are overtaking the Hyatt Regency and other nearby hotels. It's expected to be a busy fest, with U.S. distribution rights available on a number of titles.

Some biz heavyweights will still hang their hats up in Yorkville but may start to feel they're on the wrong side of the tracks.

While the coming days will reveal if the fest organization has stretched itself too thin by opening Lightbox in the midst of the festival, early arrivals are already expressing appreciation of the proximity of key locations and abundance of new hotels.

Hoping to rekindle the convivial vibe of bygone fests, the new Filmmakers' Lounge (134 Peter St.) is a two-story hangout where helmers (who get priority), industry and media can tweet, meet, eat, attend industry events and storm the bar for daily happy hour.

Many industryites descending into downtown Toronto have already gotten a taste of hot titles in Venice and Telluride. A slew of buzz-worthy pics that have screened at either or both of the fests such as the Weinstein Co.'s "The King's Speech" and Fox Searchlight pics "Black Swan" and "Never Let Me Go" are also screening in Toronto.

But even though major distribs are attached to many of these buzz pics, buyers know there are still of uncut gems to be had.

IM Global's "Everything Must Go," starring Will Ferrell and Rebecca Hall, is up for grabs, while David Schwimmer's "Trust," starring Clive Owen and Catherine Keener, could see business for Nu Image/Millennium Films.

StudioCanal's "Brighton Rock," which preems here and brings Helen Mirren and Sam Riley together for Rowan Joffe's adaptation of the Graham Greene tome, could whet the appetite of international buyers. Pic marks the first project greenlit from the development slate of Blighty distrib Optimum Releasing and is a title for which many European buyers have expressed early interest.

Meanwhile, eOne Intl. is selling Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies," hot off the plane from Venice and Telluride, while Goldcrest Films is unveiling Justin Chadwick's Kenya-set "The First Grader" to buyers.

Errol Morris' distrib-free docu "Tabloid," sold through Submarine Entertainment, was also on the lips of Telluride attendees, while HanWay's toon "Chico and Rita," which chronicles a budding Cuban pianist and his chanteuse lover from Havana to New York, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas, could spice up the Toronto menu.

There's also sure to be action on films still in production. "The King's Speech" producer Iain Canning is in town to unveil his Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender project, "Shame," sold through HanWay. Title, about a man unable to manage his sex life, could be tempting to buyers after the duo won awards at Cannes and Venice for 2008's "Hunger."

And IM Global will no doubt be trying to secure deals on DNA Films' "Judge Dredd," set to lense in South Africa, while Myriad Pictures will be screening first footage of Kevin Spacey Wall Street thriller "Margin Call."

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Post by Admin on Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:45 am

Transmission hits a Royal flush
18 January 2011 | 10:22 - By Don Groves

Australian distributor has a piece of an Oscar contender.

Just after launching Transmission Films three years ago, Australian distributors Richard Payten and Andrew Mackie were sent the script of a London play as a potential film project.

They got the script from Iain Canning, the London-based co-founder with Emile Sherman of See-Saw Films, the Sydney-headquartered production company in which Transmission is a shareholder. No director or stars were attached but Payten and Mackie undertook to help finance the movie, putting up a ‘significant’ minimum guarantee for the Australian/New Zealand rights.

After a long struggle, the £8 million budget ($A12.6 million) was raised, the balance coming from the UK Film Council, The Weinstein Co., which secured the US and several other territories, and UK distributor Momentum.

The gamble paid off handsomely as The King’s Speech has earned a lucrative $12.3 million after its fourth weekend in Australia and $US46 million in the US, with heaps more upside worldwide, particularly if it’s rewarded at the Oscars next month. Here it will expand from 107 to 170 screens on Thursday to satisfy exhibitors who were clamouring for prints.

It’s Transmission’s biggest success financially and a vindication of its strategy in partnering with See-Saw and aligning itself with Paramount’s powerful Australian distribution arm, with which it has a first-look deal.

Payten told SBS Films that Fox Searchlight was keen to finance The King’s Speech but that deal would have lessened the creative control enjoyed by Canning and Sherman, and Transmission would have lost the Oz rights. He said director Tom Hooper, whose mother had seen the play in London, was interested in making the film but hadn’t signed when Transmission got involved, and the casting of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush was then a long way off.

Joint Managing Directors Payten and Mackie ran Dendy Films for six years, demonstrating a shrewd eye for acquiring quality art house movies. Benefiting from Paramount’s clout with exhibitors, the brief at Transmission has broadened to include specialised movies with cross-over potential as well as mainstream releases such as Charlie & Boots, Beneath Hill 60, Streetdance 3D and See-Saw’s The Kings of Mykonos: Wog Boy 2.

Transmission typically releases 10 films theatrically a year via Paramount and five in its own right. Already it’s amassed a library of more than 100 titles, including DVD product.

A strong backer of Australian movies, its upcoming slate includes Griff the Invisible, Sundance festival entry Mad Bastards, Sleeping Beauty, which stars Emily Browning, Burning Man (Matthew Goode, Rachel Griffiths) and Fred Schepisi's The Eye of the Storm (Judy Davis, Geoffrey Rush, Charlotte Rampling).

Also in the hopper are See-Saw’s Shame, a New York-set sexual drama starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, directed and co-written by Steve McQueen (Hunger), plus Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights, Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Inhabit, Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method.

Despite a general softening of the DVD market in Australia and elsewhere, it can still yield sizable numbers. Payten cites Charlie & Boots, which sold 150,000 units in Oz, more than Star Trek and Terminator Salvation.

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Post by Admin on Fri Feb 11, 2011 9:20 pm

Snoot is up 'Next' for HanWay
Film outfit financing, co-producing thriller
By Diana Lodderhose

Snoot Entertainment is financing and co-producing low-budget thriller "You're Next," which Brit outfit HanWay Films is selling in Berlin.

Pic, helmed by Adam Wingard and penned by Simon Barrett, centers on a family that comes under attack by sadistic killers.

Snoot's Keith Calder and Jessica Wu will produce along with Barrett. Pic is skedded to lense in spring in Missouri.

HanWay is shopping a slew of projects at the Berlinale's European Film Market, including Kevin MacDonald and Ridley Scott's Sundance buzz pic "Life in a Day," screening in Panorama; Steve McQueen's "Shame," toplining Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan; and recently announced Michael Hoffman pic "Girls Night Out," with Dakota Fanning (as a teenage Princess Margaret).

Contact Diana Lodderhose at

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