'Shame' finds U.S. buyer, to hit theaters in 2011
"Shame," the provocative and kinky film starring Michael Fassbender as a thirtysomething New York man obsessed with impersonal gratification, will be coming to U.S. theaters before the year's end, having found a distributor Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival: Fox Searchlight.
"Shame,” which world premiered last week at the Venice Film Festival and also played at the small Telluride Film Festival in Colorado last weekend, is directed by Steve McQueen and also stars Carey Mulligan. It was seen as one of the hottest titles up for grabs in Toronto -- albeit also one that poses serious marketing challenges.
“Steve McQueen’s courageous exploration of modern life’s extremes is breathtaking," Fox Searchlight Co-presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula said in a statement announcing the deal. "He has crafted an extraordinary film that probes some of the deepest and darkest issues ever portrayed on screen with amazingly gifted performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan.”
Fox Searchlight began talks with producers after seeing the film in Telluride and apparently won them over with their plans for how to market the film, which seems certain to get an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. That can pose a marketing challenge, as some theaters refuse to play such films and some publications frown on advertising for films with that rating.
"Their approach to marketing and distributing the film this year was incredibly detailed and impressive. We are excited to be working with them on a film that is sparking debate and a strong emotional reaction from audiences,” producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman said in a statement.
Searchlight, though, does have a track record in marketing difficult and unusual fare, including last year's ballet-horror film "Black Swan," which went on to five Oscar nominations and grossed more than $100 million in the U.S. alone.
-- Julie Makinen in Toronto
Photo: Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender in "Shame." Credit: Toronto International Film Festival.