There’s a lot buzzing at this year’s Cannes Film Festival that’s running from May 13 through the 24. But the films with flashy premieres at the festival are just the tip of the iceberg, what with the market, Marché du Film, running concurrently and over 5,000 films being offered up to distributors.
Many films have already been scooped up by distributors for a domestic release. Lionsgate picked up the Colin Firth/Nicole Kidman starrer Genius as well as Sicario with Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt and the studio is teaming up with Roadside Attractions to distribute the Matthew McConaughey-starring The Sea of Trees.
Weinstein will distribute the much talked about lesbian romance film, Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara along with the Robert De Niro Boxing pic, Hands Of Stone. Woody Allen’s Irrational Man and the Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Our Little Sister will be released by Sony Pictures Classic. Fox Searchlight also made a deal for Paolo Sorrentino’s Cannes Competition film Youth.
Not to mention Elvis & Nixon and Macbeth have been making waves at the fest, both of which were picked by SSN in our AFM most bankable list (which you can read here). Macbeth will also be distributed domestically by Weinstein.
You’ll need to be fast on the trigger, but there are still a lot of titles up for grabs, so SSN is wading through the titles to pick the most bankable out of the lot for U.S. audiences. Since it is Cannes, these won’t be blockbusters, but they also won’t come with a blockbuster price tag. These are the types of indie and mid-budget films that will give investors a solid return on investment and if handled correctly could pick up awards in fall.
A Tale of Love and Darkness
Period Drama, Completed
Director/Writer/Key Cast: Natalie Portman Producers: Natalie Portman, Annette Savitch, Ram Bergman, David Mandil
Logline: The story of Amos Oz, the Israeli writer, growing up in the war-torn Jerusalem of the forties and fifties.
SSN Insight: Among the most talked about titles is this film because it marks the directorial debut of Natalie Portman and it looks, smells, and feels like Oscar bait. First off it’s adapted from Hebrew memoir of the same name that’s an international bestseller, Jerusalem is its setting and real shooting location, it’s a period piece in the forties and fifties, and not least of which is that it’s a passion project for Portman who took on all the filmmaking duties and already has an Oscar to boot. The only thing that’s missing is a release by the Weinstein Company and accolades here they come.
Sales: Voltage Pictures
Bleed for This
Sports Biopic, Wrapped
Writer/Director: Ben Younger Producers: Noah Kraft, Martin Scorsese, Joshua Sason, Pamela Thur, Michelle Verdi Key Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Miles Teller, Ciarian Hinds
Logline: After a 1991 car crash, world champion boxer Vinny Pazienza did not know if he would walk again, but against doctors’ orders he trained and returned to the ring about a year later.
SSN Insight: This five million budgeted indie is getting strong buyer response at the market and it’s no wonder given Miles Teller is on a streak with Whiplash and the Divergent franchise already underfoot. It doesn’t hurt that the film is produced by the legendary Martin Scorsese. Did we mention this is a true story sports biopic? That definitely goes in the plus column. To get a good metric on ROI, buyers may want to watch how Southpaw does in theaters.
Sales: WME, CAA
I Kill Giants
Fantasy, Active Development
Director: Anders Walter Writer: Joe Kelly Producers: Chris Columbus Key Cast: TBD
Logline: Barbara Thorson is a misfit, who battles the monsters in her life, both real and imagined.
SSN Insight: Bankability has a lot to do with cast, which in this case has yet to be pinned down, but this film (fully financed by Treehouse Pictures) has a lot going for it even early on. For starters it’s based on a critically-acclaimed Image Comics graphic novel, it features a female protagonist (think Frozen) and includes fantasy elements of monsters. Most notably though, it marks the feature directorial debut for Anders Walter who won an Oscar for his short Helium and is produced by the veteran and beloved filmmaker Chris Columbus.
Sales: XYZ Films
Biopic, Active Development
Director: Pablo Larraín Producers: Juan de Dios Larrain, Scott Franklin Key Cast: Natalie Portman
Logline: Jackie Kennedy struggles to define her husband’s legacy in the week following his assassination.
SSN Insight: Larraín is a director famous for making political and award-winning films set in his native Chile. His 2012 film No made waves at Cannes and earned him an Oscar nomination in the foreign film category. His 2015 film Club was offered at the Berlin market and he’s also listed as the director on the Scarface remake at Universal. Portman is earning her share of buzz for her directorial debut already mentioned, but a biopic on perhaps the most loved First Lady in history would be well received and receive much attention.
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos Writer(s): Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou Producers: Andrew Lowe, Lee Magiday, Tessa Ross, Sam Lavended, Ed Guiney Key Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux
Logline: In a dystopian future, single people are forced into a facility where they must find a mate in 45 days, and if they fail they are transformed into an animal and released to the wild. One man escapes and finds true love, violating the rules.
SSN Insight: The premise alone is just oddball enough to pique interest. Just reading the logline makes you wonder what animal you’d pick (honey badger comes to mind). Generally anything dystopian these days involves a teenager at its center, so it’s nice this one is a bit grown-up. Speaking of the cast it stars the soon to be comeback kid Colin Farrell thanks to True Detective and the always alluring Rachel Weisz. Also the director’s previous film, Dogtooth in 2010, was well-received and this project marks his English language debut.
Thriller, Active Development
Writer/Director: Tom Ford Producers: Tom Ford, George Clooney, Grant Heslov Key Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal
Logline: Susan receives a manuscript from her ex-husband, and reading it causes her recall her first marriage and confront some dark truths about herself.
SSN Insight: It’s been six years since Ford’s $7 million budgeted A Single Man grossed $24 million worldwide. This film is adapted from Austin Wright’s novel Tony & Susan and while the logline isn’t exactly uplifting, Adams and more notably Gyllenhaal who is continuing to make interesting acting choices. You can be sure the acting will be spot-on just by considering his most recent choices of Prisoners and Nightcrawler. Clooney and Heslov’s veteran touch behind the scenes adds to its stamp of quality.
Untitled Beatles Documentary
Documentary, In Production
Director: Ron Howard Producers: Ron Howard, Nigel Sinclair, Scott Pascucci, Brian Grazer
Logline: An authorized documentary about the Beatles.
SSN Insight: Documentaries are hotter than ever right now, especially looking at HBO’s distribution of buzzy titles Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Going Clear and The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. Documentaries with household names are certainly going to do better than those without, so acquiring a documentary on the culture phenomenon that is still relevant today, the Beatles, is all the more bankable given its official status and Ron Howard is spearheading the film. This should be a no-brainer.
Sales: White Horse Films, Studiocanal
Romantic Comedy, Wrapped
Writer/Director: Rebecca Miller. Producers: Rachael Horovitz, Damon Cardasis, Rebecca Miller Key Cast: Julianne Moore, Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke.
Logline: A young woman tries to make it on her own in New York City.
SSN Insight: Coming off her Oscar win, Julianne Moore is hot right now combined with the quirky and always wonderful Gerwig along with Hawke whose film, Good Kill, is being released- the cast couldn’t have more indie love going in. Meanwhile the filmmaker at the helm, Miller is latter-day Renaissance woman, successfully mastering her work as novelist, screenwriter and director of both stage and film productions including The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and The Ballad of Jack and Rose. The love triangle angle of the film should work nicely for auds as well.
Drama, Active Development
Director: David Michod Producers: Brett Ratner, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner Key Cast: Brad Pitt
Logline: Behind-the-scenes look at the Afghanistan war from the military commanders with their high-stakes decisions and infighting, to the soldiers on patrol.
SSN Insight: Based on the 2012 book of the same name by author Michael Hastings, this film has some A-List backing between Pitt’s Plan B and Ratner’s Rat Pack. Pitt has been on a role for a while now with war films, albeit period ones, but this modern take should do well for him. Michôd is an Australian filmmaker who rose to prominence with his 2010 drama Animal Kingdom that earned the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. His most recent film, Rover starring Guy Pearce premiered at last year’s Cannes and was released by A24.
WWII Thriller, Preproduction
Director: Cédric Jimenez Writers: Cédric Jimenez, David Farr, Audrey Diwan Producers: Alain Goldman, Simon Istolainen Key Cast: Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike
Logline: The true story of the assassination of Hitler’s colleague, Reinhard Heydrich.
SSN Insight: This film has a lot of things going for it. It has Rosamund Pike hot off of Gone Girl, the WWII period angle, it’s a true story about heroes and most notably its screenplay was featured on the 2014 Brit List (‘The Blacklist’ for the UK). It’s also based on the bestselling novel by French author Laurent Binet that was the New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2012. Considering Imitation Game did so well last year and this story is also about a long lost true story about WWII heroes, this film could have a good return on investment if marketed smartly.
Sales: WME, FilmNation