TORONTO: "Away From Her," "The Prisoner," "El Cantante," And More Purchased at Fest

by | September 16, 2006 | Comments

Picturehouse led the pack of acquisitions at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, nabbing North American rights to "El Cantante," the biopic of Salsa singer Hector Lavoe starring Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Marc Anthony.

El Cantante,” or “The Singer,” tells the tragic tale of troubled Puerto Rican musician Lavoe (Anthony) and his steadfast wife Puchi (Lopez), who navigated the ups and downs of stardom together through the 60s, 70s and 80s. It’s a big, flashy biopic driven by the infectious sounds of Lavoe’s Salsa songs – a pure vanity project, as Anne Thompson aptly writes – and what’s more, J.Lo and Marc Anthony went from just friends to husband-and-wife during pre-production on the film. Add to that a built-in audience, fans of Lavoe and the Nuyorican Salsa movement, and Picturehouse’s reported $6 million buy seems a smart move. The Leon Ichaso-directed flick is expected to hit theaters next summer.

Canadian actress Sarah Polley had her directorial debut, “Away From Her,” premiere in the prestigious Gala program at TIFF; festival buzz pegged it as a hot ticket film. So it came as some surprise when it was picked up – not surprise that it sold, but that genre distributor Lionsgate was the one to seal the deal. “Away From Her” stars Julie Christie as a woman whose loving, longstanding marriage is threatened by her increasing mental deterioration due to Alzheimer’s disease, adapted from a short story by author Alice Munro. Lionsgate plans a spring 2007 release, expected to emulate the year-long Oscar campaign of last year’s winner, “Crash.”


John Waters and "This Filthy World" director Jeff Garlin, whose pic comes courtesy of Netflix’s Red Envelope label

Another planned spring release is “The Prisoner: Or How I Tried To Kill Tony Blair,” from the director of “Gunner Palace.” The visually-enhanced documentary tells the true story of an Iraqi journalist and his two brothers who were held at Abu Graib for nine months, interrogated, and eventually released by the American government. Netflix’s new distribution arm, Red Envelope, bought the pic; with plans to add footage to the now-60-minute film, “The Prisoner” will likely see theaters next spring.

Audiences can also look forward to seeing short film compilation "Paris, Je T’aime" early next year. First Look Pictures purchased North American rights mid-week, as the pic, a seventeen-part ode to Paris dedicated to each one of the cities’ neighborhoods, screened here after debuting in Cannes. Among the many international stars and directors involved are Steve Buscemi, Elijah Wood, Natalie Portman, Bob Hoskins, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Nick Nolte, Ludivine Sagnier, and Maggie Gyllenhaal; and Alfonso Cuaron, Walter Salles, Gurinder Chadha, Nobuhiro Suwa, Wes Craven, Alexander Payne, and the Coen brothers.

The Weinstein Co. snatched up two very different pics earlier in the fest. “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show,” which follows the actor and four comedians on a 30-day stand-up tour, sold for $2.5 million; teen slasher pic “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane” was a pricier deal at $3.5 million, despite a lack of recognizable cast members.


Who will be next to make a deal? Perhaps Paul Verhoeven (here with star Carice Van Houten), whose "Black Book" premiered at Toronto…

Hong Kong director Johnny To had three films in the festival, as his Triad intrigues “Election” and “Election 2” screened together as a Vanguard double feature and “Exiled” played in the Special Presentations category. “Exiled,” received well both at Venice and at Toronto, was sold to Magnolia Pictures and will be released sometime next year.

A number of films closed deals even before the festival began, including the Morgan Freeman starrer, “10 Items Or Less” (THINKFilm); Michael Apted’s 18th century pic, “Amazing Grace” (Samuel Goldwyn Films/Roadside Attractions); “Dixie Chicks – Shut Up And Sing” (The Weinstein Co.); and Werner Herzog’s “Rescue Dawn” (MGM).

Many more festival films are expected to close distribution deals out of their Toronto screenings. Pics by established directors are likely to sell, like Paul Verhoeven’s WWII thriller “Black Book” and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s samurai drama “Hana.” American pics with stars like the Joan Allen-Jessica Lange “Bonneville” and the Reese Witherspoon-Christina RicciPenelope” are also expected to make deals, despite garnering less than stellar, mixed reviews.

For our full Tomatoes in Toronto festival coverage, click here!

Tag Cloud

Rom-Com MSNBC sitcom game show 21st Century Fox technology Martial Arts Warner Bros. Marvel YA CBS All Access 45 X-Men theme song true crime GLAAD El Rey facebook Freeform Amazon Prime PBS Rocky Writers Guild of America DirecTV casting Western Oscars Acorn TV Super Bowl hist Nickelodeon Starz DC streaming service Biopics MTV Musical docudrama boxoffice Rocketman Election Mindy Kaling dramedy Marathons Fantasy DGA adaptation MCU aliens singing competition Cosplay Character Guide historical drama Britbox OWN 007 anthology Apple mockumentary Spectrum Originals movies FX transformers Ghostbusters Photos Podcast travel Crackle ghosts teaser Video Games crime Tarantino Tumblr ratings series binge political drama Sundance Now mutant Toys golden globes dceu BBC America supernatural Anna Paquin NYCC Chernobyl miniseries SDCC Adult Swim Ovation spider-man TV Land IFC Films Showtime See It Skip It Awards Tour YouTube Premium Family Sundance robots Netflix HBO Max cats Winter TV Calendar Grammys diversity war green book Amazon FOX Comics on TV zombie Comic Book TCA 2017 Extras 2017 Creative Arts Emmys Box Office Best and Worst Ellie Kemper cults Musicals YouTube Red Lucasfilm award winner Paramount Network VICE Tomatazos romance Kids & Family Superheroe crossover Amazon Prime Video comic Awards Mystery Mudbound Song of Ice and Fire crime thriller Reality Competition toy story anime Action Premiere Dates Drama vampires science fiction Sony Pictures Superheroes streaming 24 frames Paramount Spike TBS witnail Food Network 2018 zero dark thirty Dark Horse Comics Certified Fresh discovery revenge A&E Set visit Esquire festivals what to watch Walt Disney Pictures children's TV ESPN Emmy Nominations RT History Sneak Peek FXX Pride Month AMC 20th Century Fox cars 2015 dc Quiz CW Seed jamie lee curtis serial killer elevated horror cooking natural history GIFs Chilling Adventures of Sabrina President Pixar Heroines Black Mirror animated Year in Review Masterpiece Disney Channel doctor who Red Carpet television San Diego Comic-Con APB TruTV Stephen King WGN Opinion Comedy Central Summer First Look strong female leads Watching Series Epix Elton John quibi E! Schedule TIFF Lifetime New York Comic Con spinoff Lionsgate Country USA Network thriller cops Countdown GoT kids comiccon cinemax Disney streaming service VH1 composers Disney social media TCM HBO zombies DC Universe RT21 SXSW Mary Poppins Returns Music TLC Nat Geo Trailer Pop WarnerMedia Bravo The CW American Society of Cinematographers TV unscripted Trophy Talk Mary poppins Columbia Pictures ABC Polls and Games book Brie Larson harry potter space crime drama CNN Syfy ABC Family Fox News LGBT tv talk History Binge Guide Spring TV sports TCA dragons Emmys Pirates Reality biography Star Trek nature Film Festival period drama justice league CBS Shudder Fall TV The Witch police drama Interview Infographic finale PaleyFest 2019 Vudu Winners TNT spy thriller Teen Star Wars Logo adventure 2016 IFC E3 disaster LGBTQ Thanksgiving Holidays Pet Sematary Nominations Animation Cannes talk show Mary Tyler Moore Horror Comedy sequel psycho blaxploitation politics Sci-Fi psychological thriller CMT National Geographic BBC Trivia Hulu Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt DC Comics richard e. Grant Shondaland Women's History Month Cartoon Network Captain marvel medical drama The Arrangement based on movie NBC USA Universal Christmas SundanceTV Rock BET ITV Film Valentine's Day