Aussies buyers fairly active at the AFM

The American Film Market was hardly a hive of activity for Australian distributors but a reasonable number of deals were signed or are about to close.

“There were quite a few pre-buy projects but not a lot to get intensely enthusiastic about,” Transmission Films co-founder Andrew Mackie told IF.

Mackie did get out his cheque book for Brooklyn, a 1950s-set drama about a young immigrant who struggles to leave behind her tranquil existence in Ireland for life in New York, starring Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson and Jim Broadbent.

Brooklyn was a real find for us – a brilliant script by Nick Hornby. Beyond that there was very little in our sweet spot,” Mackie said. Hornby’s screenplay is adapted from Colm Tóibín's 2009 novel. The director is John Crowley, whose credits include Boy A, Is Anybody There? and the Eric Bana thriller Closed Circuit, which Bana and Rob Connolly’s CinemaPlus are launching in Australia on December 5.

At the AFM International Film Trust announced it had sold to Transmission Cymbeline, a modern-day take on Shakespeare's play starring Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich and Fifty Shades of Grey’s Dakota Johnson. In fact Mackie pre-bought that title a couple of months ago.

Rialto Distribution closed a deal for The Face of Love, a romantic drama that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Annette Bening and Ed Harris star in the tale of a grieving widow who is hypnotised by a dead ringer for her late husband.

One of the few buzzed-about titles at the market was the McG-directed Three Days to Kill, the saga of a dying Secret Service agent who is given the chance to live if he takes an experimental drug and completes one final mission. Roadshow will release that film, which stars Kevin Costner, Amber Heard and Hailee Steinfeld, via its output deal with Relativity Media.

Icon Film Distribution bought four theatrical titles, two mid-sized, two smaller films. Icon CEO Greg Hughes isn’t ready to name them but said, “We had a good market and came home with what we wanted. I would agree that there was very little ‘sizzle’ to the market overall.”

Roadshow acquired several films but no details are yet forthcoming and Umbrella Entertainment is negotiating for a few titles.

One Aussie buyer heard there was a deal for Boychoir, the story of a troubled, angry 11-year-old orphan with an angelic voice who enrols in an elite boarding school choir, starring Dustin Hoffman, Alfred Molina and Kathy Bates.

Madman Entertainment bought from XYZ Films The Night Comes For Us, an action thriller about a mob enforcer who gets caught up in a web of deceit.

As IF has reported, start-up distributor Leap Frog Films bought Nigerian-set drama Half of a Yellow Sun; Image Entertainment collared North American rights to Greg Mclean’s Wolf Creek 2; and Arclight Films’ Gary Hamilton closed numerous deals for Australian director Alan White’s thriller Reclaim, now shooting in Puerto Rico.

“The market for us was one of the best in years,” said Hamilton, pointing to sales for Chinese co-production Outcast and Left Bank, an action thriller starring Nic Cage, and “huge interest” in the trailer of the Spierig brothers’ time-travelling sci-fi thriller Predestination.