No End to Deals at Toronto Fest

Although the Toronto International Film Festival has begun to wind down, several deals were announced Thursday: Fine Line inked a pact to pick up world rights to the basketball documentary “The Year of the Yao,” a portrait of NBA player Yao Ming, and Palm Pictures took on Johnnie To’s “Breaking News.”

At press time, further theatrical pacts were being hammered out for the Real to Reel selection “Three of Hearts,” the Midnight Madness horror features “Creep” and “Dead Birds” and Susanne Bier’s Danish import “Brothers.” In other dealings, attorney Andrew Hurwitz and the William Morris Independent unit wrapped up $3 million in international sales on the TIFF pick “Saint Ralph.”

Meanwhile, all eyes turned to the high-profile feature “The Libertine,” which was slotted for a gala screening Thursday night. The film stars Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton and John Malkovich, and even while many top execs were heading out of town, Miramax Films’ Harvey Weinstein was said to be landing in Toronto to screen “Libertine.” Besides checking out the film, Weinstein was likely on hand to support Depp, who plays the lead in Miramax’s Oscar hopeful “Finding Neverland.”

Before their Thursday pickups, Fine Line and Palm had been active at this year’s TIFF. Fine Line, which has two films screening in the fest, said this week that it also will release the Spanish-language TIFF selection “Holy Girl” in partnership with HBO Films. Palm grabbed another TIFF title, the Iraq docu “Gunner Palace.”

“Yao” — which had its world premiere here — centers on Yao’s journey from China and adjustment to the trials of pro basketball in the United States, with his young interpreter, Colin Pine, along for the ride.

The film was co-directed and co-produced for Endgame Entertainment and NBA Entertainment by James Stern and Adam Del Deo. Adam Silver, Gregg Winik and Bill Sanders executive produced, and Larry Weitzman was the film’s co-executive producer.

Guy Stodel, senior vp acquisitions and productions, brokered the deal for Fine Line along with the company’s Carolyn Blackwood and Sejin Park. The filmmakers were repped by CAA, Stern and Del Deo.

“Breaking News,” which debuted at Cannes, screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section last week. The Honk Kong crime drama stars Richie Jen, Kelly Chen, Nick Cheung, Cheung Siu Fai and Hui Siu Hung in a tale of warring cops and robbers.

Palm bought North American rights and will roll out the film next year. The company has worked on two To films, “Fulltime Killer” and “PTU.”

“Saint Ralph,” starring Campbell Scott and Jennifer Tilly, has yet to nab a domestic pact, but the film had sold by Thursday to Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and France. The film’s reps said they are screening “Ralph” next week in Los Angeles for prospective buyers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *