Andrew Garfield, Nicolas Cage Star in Cannes Hot Market Titles – The Hollywood Reporter
The ongoing Hollywood writers’ strike casts a cloud over what otherwise promises to be a solid Cannes film market. Most buyers and sellers came out of Berlin this year “cautiously optimistic” as the (partial) resurgence of the theatrical market alongside a slowly but steadily growing digital ancillary business offers reason to believe reports of the death of the indie industry — widespread in the wake of the COVID theater shutdowns — have been greatly exaggerated.
“I see the investment by Amazon and Apple TV in the theatrical business as a real positive,” says David Garrett of Mister Smith Entertainment, “because it shows they recognize the real value of the theatrical experience.” Amazon’s success with Ben Affleck’s sports-marketing biopic Air, which grossed upwards of $80 million worldwide in theaters before going out online, bodes well for the upcoming rollout of Apple’s Cannes title Killers of the Flower Moon from Martin Scorsese, which Paramount will release worldwide.
But what actually still constitutes a theatrical film is an unsettled debate among international buyers. While many of the projects heading to the Cannes Film Market this year, including a Guy Ritchie action movie starring Henry Cavill and a Sebastián Lelio romantic drama with Andrew Garfield and Daisy Edgar-Jones, seem to scream “theatrical release,” international buyers remain wary of taking a risk on anything that doesn’t tick every box: cast, director, genre and budget level.
Here is THR‘s look at hot titles going to Cannes.
DIRECTOR Stephen Cookson
STARS Diane Keaton, Patricia Hodge, Lulu, Boy George
BUZZ The fountain of youth concept gets a Brit comedy spin with this presale feature in which three women (Keaton, Hodge and Scottish singer-actress Lulu) drink a de-aging elixir. But hitting the clubs, they realize they are not equipped to be young in the modern world.
SALES Arclight Films
DIRECTOR Simon West
STARS Rebel Wilson
BUZZ An action comedy in the vein of Miss Congeniality and The Heat, this project sees Con-Air director West teaming up with Pitch Perfect and The Hustle star Wilson, who will play a badass secret agent tasked with her toughest mission yet: Being the Maid of Honor for her childhood best friend.
SALES WME Independent
DIRECTOR Ric Roman Waugh
STAR Sylvester Stallone
BUZZ The sequel to the action thriller that saw Stallone star as a former mountain rescuer who has to face off against a violent gang in the Rockies will be directed by Waugh, a veteran of the Gerard Butler actioner camp. Neal Moritz is producing.
SALES Rocket Science, CAA Media Finance
DIRECTOR Alex Prager
STARS Elizabeth Banks, John C. Reilly
BUZZ An extremely-timely near-future thriller that taps into current anxiety over A.I., this high-concept pitch sees Banks and Reilly as the husband-and-wife Carol and Gary, who find their lives disrupted when Gary chooses a robotic version of Carol over the original.
SALES HanWay Films, UTA Independent Film Group, CAA Media Finance
DIRECTOR Mel Gibson
STAR Mark Wahlberg
BUZZ Gibson’s return to the director’s chair, seven years after the global success of Hacksaw Ridge, is sure to get buyers excited. The film, based on Jared Rosenberg’s 2020 Blacklist script, will see Wahlberg play a pilot transporting a dangerous criminal for trial.
DIRECTOR Aziz Ansari
STARS Ansari, Seth Rogen, Keanu Reeves
BUZZ While comedies can be a hard sell, this one stars global box office pull Reeves. Ansari writes, directs, and stars in the film, which is currently in production, alongside Rogen and Reeves. International rights are available for the project that features Armageddon Time and Master of None producers. (Ansari was previously making his feature debut with Searchlight’s Being Mortal before production was suspended following an investigation into the behavior of star Bill Murray.)
DIRECTOR Edward Drake
STARS Kevin James
BUZZ The King of Queens and Pall Blart: Mall Cop star serves up a slice of mainstream action comedy with this new feature, playing an ex-cop and family man who moonlights as a mob henchman. When a job goes horribly wrong, he has one night to get his family out of the city. Edward Drake (Broil) will direct from his own script.
SALES Millennium Media
DIRECTOR Katie Locke O’Brien
STARS Emma Roberts
BUZZ Done right, female-focused broad comedy is a proven global box office draw — see Bridesmaids and the Bad Moms franchise — a market this indie laffer is targeting, with American Horror Story and Madame Web actress Emma Roberts as a woman whose personal life implodes on a TV dating show who has to take the ultimate walk of shame back to her hometown.
SALES Mister Smith Entertainment/Rebelle Media
The Life of Chuck
DIRECTOR Mike Flanagan
STARS Tom Hiddleston, Mark Hamill
BUZZ Horror remains the one dependable genre at the box office and this project, an adaptation of a Steven King short story, comes with the star power of Hiddleston and Hamill and the safe hands of Doctor Sleep and The Haunting Of Hill House director Mike Flanagan.
SALES FilmNation, WME Independent
Lords of War
DIRECTOR Andrew Niccol
STARS Nicolas Cage, Bill Skarsgard
BUZZ The sequel to 2005 hit Lord of War, with the ever-bankable Cage reprising his role as conflicted international arms dealer Yuri Orlov and Skarsgard as the son trying to outdo his dad’s mercantile excesses, should find eager buyers aiming for an indie title with crossover action potential.
SALES FilmNation Entertainment, CAA Media Finance
Lolita in Tehran
DIRECTOR Eran Riklis
STARS Golshifteh Farahani, Zar Amir-Ebrahimi
BUZZ A standout among the international art-house dramas vying for buyers in Cannes this year, this adaptation of Azar Nafisi’s best-selling Iranian memoir — about a teacher, who, in the midst of the Islamic Revolution, sets up a secret reading club with seven of her most committed female students — features two of Iran’s hottest talents: Holy Spider star (and 2022 Cannes best actress winner) Amir-Ebrahimi and Pirates of the Caribbean/About Elly actress Farahani.
SALES WestEnd Films
DIRECTOR Johnny Depp
STARS Riccardo Scamarcio, Pierre Niney, Al Pacino
BUZZ A Depp is keen to capitalize on the momentum of the Cannes opening night premiere of Maïwenn’s Jeanne du Barry, which features the Pirates of the Caribbean star as French King Louis XV, by launching his second-ever directorial effort (after 1997’s The Brave), a biopic of Amedeo Modigliani that stars John Wick: Chapter 2 actor Scarmacio as the Italian artist and Pacino as art collector Maurice Gangnat.
SALES The Veterans
Memoir of a Snail
DIRECTOR Adam Elliot
STARS Jacki Weaver, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Dominique Pinon, Magda Szubanski, Eric Bana
BUZZ Animated art house films are a rare beast, but when they work — like Elliot’s 2019 feature Mary and Max — they can be crossover success stories. The director’s follow-up is a 1970s-set tale about a lonely misfit who hoards ornamental snails and is addicted to romance novels.
DIRECTOR Romola Garai
STARS Bella Ramsey, Dominic West, Ruth Negga, Fiona Shaw
BUZZ The Last of Us breakout Bella Ramsey stars in this 17th century-set period drama that could draw attention from distributors that found success with the likes of The Favourite and Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Ramsey plays a woman born into poverty with an unusual condition that means she is entirely covered in hair. Hailed as a “natural wonder,” she is given a place of honor at the king’s court, but she is determined to make her own way as an artist.
SALES HanWay Films
DIRECTORS Kevin Armento, Jaki Bradley
STARS Melissa Barrera, Nicholas Hoult, Lana Condor
BUZZ What The Menu did to satirize high dining, The One could do for reality show dating (See: The Bachelor, Love Island and Love Is Blind). The story follows Taylor (Barrera) as she enters a reality dating show to vie for Mason (Hoult). Along the way, the produced veneer begins to break down and the contest turns terrifying. Riley Keough produces with Hoult.
SALES HanWay, CAA Media Finance, UTA Independent Film Group
On the Side of the Shard
DIRECTOR Martin Campbell
STARS Daisy Ridley
BUZZ Casino Royale and GoldenEye filmmaker Martin Campbell teams up with Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley in this Die Hard-style action thriller, set in the London skyscraper The Shard. When radical activists the building seizing 300 hostages, Joey Locke (Ridley), ex-soldier turned window cleaner, suspended 90 stories up on the outside of the building, has to save those trapped inside.
One for the Road
DIRECTOR Markus Goller
STARS Frederick Lau, Nora Tschirner
BUZZ Pitched as a German Another Round, this dramedy features Victoria star Lau as a frequent imbiber who is forced to confront his relationship with the bottle after a DUI requires him to undergo a medical-psychological examination to get his driver’s license back. Sony Germany is producing and releasing locally.
SALES Beta Cinema
DIRECTOR Bernard Rose
STAR Callum Scott Howells
BUZZ Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocket Man proved the box office potential of the ’80s pop biopic, and this take on Brit superband Frankie Goes to Hollywood, named for the band’s 1983 hit single and based on frontman Holly Johnson’s memoir, looks set to shoot up the Cannes sales charts. It’s a Sin breakout Howells is set to play Johnson, with Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title (Les Misérables, Cats) producing.
SALES Independent Entertainment
DIRECTOR Max Minghella
STARS Elisabeth Moss, Kate Hudson, Kaia Gerber
BUZZ The reteaming of Handmaid’s Tale co-stars Moss and Minghella (here as director) is an enticing pitch for international buyers on the lookout for a high-concept thriller with some star allure. The near-future plot has Moss playing a struggling actress who gets a free trial at high-tech beauty company Shell, which promises to keep its customers looking young forever.
SALES Black Bear International, CAA Media Finance, WME Independent
They Found Us
DIRECTOR Neill Blomkamp STAR Joel Kinnaman
BUZZ One of the few sci-fi packages heading to Cannes this year, this alien abduction thriller from South African sci-fi whiz Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) promises futuristic thrills on an indie budget for international distributors. Suicide Squad and RoboCop actor Kinnaman plays a father on a camping trip with his estranged daughter who is forced to battle a hostile extraterrestrial.
SALES AGC Studios, UTA Independent Film Group
Untitled Guy Ritchie Action Film
DIRECTOR Guy Ritchie
STARS Henry Cavill, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eiza González
BUZZ A star-studded Ritchie action movie pretty much sells itself on the international market, so there will be no shortage of buyers for the latest from the Sherlock Holmes and The Gentlemen helmer. Cavill and Gyllenhaal star as extraction specialists who must plot an escape route for a high-level female negotiator (González).
SALES Black Bear International
Untitled Jesse Moss/ Tony Gerber Political Thriller Doc
DIRECTORS Jesse Moss, Tony Gerber
BUZZ Described as both a political thriller and dystopian sci-fi feature, the film is as high concept as a doc can get. Moss, who was behind Sundance stand-out Boys State, and Gerber, a National Geographic veteran, come together for the doc that combines non-fiction filmmaking with more cinematic visuals.
SALES Submarine, Anonymous Content
DIRECTOR Jonathan and Josh Baker
STARS Jessica Biel, Scott Mescudi, Xochitl Gomez
BUZZ Biel and Gomez play a mother and daughter fighting for survival after they crash-land on an Earth-like planet in this high-concept sci-fi thriller from genre masters XYZ. X actor Mescudi, aka Kid Cudi, will play one of an enemy faction trying to hunt them down.
SALES XYZ Films, WME Independent
DIRECTOR Sebastián Lelio
STARS Andrew Garfield, Daisy Edgar-Jones
BUZZ FilmNation is reteaming with Gloria Bell director Lelio on this romantic biopic targeting specialty and awards-friendly distributors. Garfield and Edgar-Jones will play celebrated astronomer Carl Sagan and Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Ann Druyan in the real-life story of their love affair, which began when they were both working on the Golden Record project, trying to craft a message from humanity to accompany NASA’s first interstellar probes on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 missions.
SALES FilmNation Entertainment
We Live in Time
DIRECTOR John Crowley
STARS Florence Pugh, Andrew Garfield
Two of the most in-demand young stars (who became more in demand after they presented together at the Oscars) come together for this romance from the Brooklyn director. Fellow Brit Benedict Cumberbatch executive produces the feature that comes from playwright Nick Payne.