The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Toronto film sales start heating up

September 10, 2008 | 10:09 am

FROM THE TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL:

A closely watched pot never seems to boil, which is perhaps why it took so long for any flurry of movie sales up here. But after "The Wrestler" had its big sale earlier this week, the market has started to perculate a little bit.

The news this morning is that IFC Films has bought Steven Soderbergh's "Che," which stars Benicio Del Toro as the legendary revolutionary who helped topple a Cuban dictatorship and still lives today on the front of a million t-shirts. IFC is expected to give the film a one-week qualifying run in LA and NY in December to help launch an Oscar campaign for Del Toro. I haven't seen the film yet, but the reception, both here and when the two-part film screened in Cannes earlier this year, has been very mixed.

"The Hurt Locker," Kathryn Bigelow's action-packed film at bomb disposal experts in Iraq, also sold earlier this morning to Summit Entertainment. The film represents a big comeback for Bigelow, one of the few female action directors in Hollywood, but its Iraq connection has made it a questionable commercial property. The film is expected to get a 2009 release from Summit.

Titles still ripening on the vine--or twisting in the wind--include Guillermo Arriaga's "The Burning Plain," which has a big star (Charlize Theron) but very limited commercial appeal; "Management," a romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn that didn't exactly wow buyers in its initial screening; and two films that feature great performances, but will be marketing challenges--"Is There Anybody There" with Michael Caine and Paul Schrader's "Adam Resurrected" with Jeff Goldblum. Buyers are also still circling "Me and Orson Welles," Richard Linklater's film about the glory days of Welles' Mercury Theater troupe, which I found a delight, but has so far only gotten very modest offers.

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