Marquee titles at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival use the platform to launch their fall theatrical releases and generate buzz for their Oscar campaigns, while a number of high-profile films look for distribution. While the market aspect of TIFF isn’t often the biggest news coming out of Toronto, the festival’s history of major acquisitions include “The Hurt Locker,” “Jackie,” “I, Tonya,” and “The Wrestler.”
This year’s lineup of acquisition titles included Xavier Dolan’s “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan,” Mia Hansen-Løve’s “Maya,” Brady Corbet’s “Vox Lux,” Errol Morris’ “American Dharma,” and Telluride hit “Biggest Little Farm.”
The Toronto International Film Festival runs September 6 – 16. Stay up to date on all of this year’s TIFF acquisitions below.
– Netflix Purchases “Lionheart”: Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut “Lionheart.” Nnaji is a producer and actress who is a star in Nigeria, where she has appeared in close to 100 TV shows and movies. Starring in her first film as a director, she plays a proven executive at her father’s bus company, but along with her rival (Kalu Egbui Ikeagwu) is passed over when her father hands the company over to her uncle. Kiva Reardon, writing for TIFF, described the film as “sharply and comically observed, Nnaji’s film deals with the everyday sexism that saturates workplaces everywhere, and captures the delicate balance between honouring one’s family while finding the courage to strike out on one’s own.” This marks the first Netflix original film from Nigeria.
– Focus Features Buys Neil Jordan’s “Greta”: Variety is reporting that Focus won an all-night bidding war for the thriller starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert, acquiring the rights for North America, Australia and China (parent company, Universal, has the U.K. rights). In her review for IndieWire, Kate Erbland wrote the film was more of a “campy B-movie curiosity” than the high-minded thriller, but the film had plenty of “bad” movie fun with “Jordan allowing Huppert to go certifiably batshit on a doe-eyed Moretz.”
– Magnolia Pictures Acquires A&E’s Roger Ailes Doc: A&E IndieFilms announced today that Magnolia Pictures acquired North American rights to “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes” and will release the film in theaters December 7, following screenings at TIFF and NYFF this month. Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles called director Alexis Bloom’s film a “provocative and disturbing deep dive” into the controversial political operative who became the mastermind behind Fox News until his downfall in 2016 following a series of sexual harassment and assault charges against Ailes. The film comes with significant bona fides — having been produced by A&E’s Molly Thompson, Jigsaw’s Alex Gibney and Impact Partners’ Dan Cogan — and hits at a particularly culturally relevant moment of President Trump and #MeToo. As Cogan said in the press release announcing the sale, “You can’t understand America today without understanding Roger Ailes.”
– Sony Pictures Classics Steps Into the Awards Race with “Stan & Ollie”: Sony Pictures Classics acquired distribution rights of the Laurel & Hardy bio-pic from Entertainment One for multiple territories including the U.S., Latin America, Eastern Europe, China and South Africa. SPC’s line-up was uncharacteristically bare of Oscar contenders this fall, but that changes with its purchase of a film receiving accolades for Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly’s performances as the aging comedy duo hitting the British variety hall tour in 1953 — decades after their rise to fame in the silent comedy era. The film was directed by Jon S. Baird from a script by Jeff Pope will receive an Oscar-qualifying run in 2018.
– Sony Pictures Classics Acquires “Maiden”: Sony Pictures Classics acquired all rights in North America, Middle East, South Africa, Scandinavia, Benelux, India, and worldwide airlines to director Alex Holmes’ “Maiden.” The documentary tells the inspiring story of Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook on charter boats, who — despite the significant obstacles of the chauvinistic yachting world and sponsors rejecting her — became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989.
– Apple Snags the Worldwide Rights to “The Elephant Queen”: Deadline is reporting that Apple purchased the elephant documentary by filmmakers Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble, who spent four years following the herd of Athena, the matriarch the TIFF guide described as “a charismatic giant tusker with an unmistakable attitude.” The film’s central drama revolves around a drought, and Athena’s impossible decision to lead her herd away from their home — risking the lives of the young — to search for water and food. The film features narration by “12 Years a Slave” star Chiwetel Ejiofor. This is the second high profile TIFF acquisition for Apple having scooped up Tomm Moore’s animated film “Wolfwalkers” prior to the festival.
– “Teen Spirit” Sells for $3 Million: Variety is reporting that “The Handmaid’s Tale” actor Max Minghella’s directorial debut has sold to Mickey Liddell’s LD Entertainment for $3 million. Elle Fanning stars as a 17-year-old with a great voice and dreams of pop stardom while living on small farm on the Isle of Wight. The film premiered to positive reviews, triggering a flurry of offers from buyers who went into TIFF with tremendous interest in the film. Liddell, who founded LD, previously backed “Biutiful” and “Jackie.”
– IFC Films Picks Up U.S Rights to Helen Mirren-Starring “Red Joan”: The film made its Toronto International Film Festival debut over the weekend at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The film is directed by Trevor Nunn from an adapted screenplay by Lindsay Shapero and based on Jennie Rooney’s best-selling novel of the same name.
– IFC Midnight Gets U.S. Distribution rights to Emma Tammi’s “The Wind”: The film, produced by Soapbox Films and Divide/Conquer, made its World Premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival to an enthusiastic Midnight Madness crowd and it will screen at Fantastic Fest in the coming days.