TIFF 2013: Focus Takes Jason Bateman Comedy BAD WORDS, Millennium Acquires FADING GIGOLO, and A24 Picks Up LOCKE with Tom Hardy

     September 9, 2013


Following yesterday’s big acquisition of the crowd-favorite Can a Song Save Your Life? at the Toronto International Film Festival, we’ve got a few other acquisition stories to attend to:

  • After an intense bidding war, Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to Jason Bateman’s directorial debut Bad Words for a whopping $7 million.  The spelling bee comedy earned strong marks after its TIFF debut and is slated for a 2014 release.  Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, and Ben Falcone (Bridesmaids) also star.
  • Director/star John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo has been picked up for worldwide rights by Millennium for $3 million, per Deadline.  Turturro stars as a man who aspires to be a professional Don Juan, and ends up being pimped out by his friend played by Woody Allen.
  • The relatively new company A24 has picked up the North American rights to director Steven Knight’s drama Locke, starring Tom Hardy as a man struggling to save his personal and professional life over the course of a car ride.

Hit the jump to read the press releases regarding Bad Words and Locke, and click here to catch up on all of our TIFF 2013 coverage thus far.

bad-words-jason-batemanHere’s the press release for Bad Words:

TORONTO, September 7th, 2013 – Worldwide rights to the comedy Bad Words, directed by and starring Jason Bateman, have been acquired by Focus Features for a 2014 theatrical release. Focus CEO James Schamus and co-CEO Andrew Karpen made the announcement today at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie is having its world premiere.

Bad Words, a Darko Entertainment/Aggregate Films/MXN production, was represented at Toronto by Creative Artists Agency and Hicks Professional Law Corporation, which made the deal with Focus at the Festival. The movie is the feature directorial debut of Mr. Bateman, who last starred in the blockbuster comedy Identity Thief and is currently an Emmy Award nominee for Arrested Development. Mr. Bateman is also a producer of the new movie through his company Aggregate, with Academy Award nominee Mason Novick (Juno) of MXN and Darko’s Sean McKittrick and Jeff Culotta. Andrew Dodge wrote the original screenplay; it is his first to be produced, and it was selected for “The Black List” in 2011.

In the movie, Mr. Bateman portrays Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man seeking catharsis in his life. He seizes the ideal that this will come for him through…the National Spelling Bee; after discovering a loophole in the rules, Guy zealously joins the competition and easily outpaces the pre-teen field in match after match. As reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn of Afternoon Delight) delves into Guy’s story, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely friendship with a competitor, awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya (Rohan Chand of Homeland), which may spell things differently for his future. Bad Words also stars Screen Actors Guild Award winner Allison Janney, Ben Falcone (Bridesmaids), Rachael Harris (The Hangover), and Philip Baker Hall (Argo).

Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.focusfeatures.com) comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world.

In addition to Bad Words, current and upcoming Focus Features releases include The World’s End, the new comedy reuniting director Edgar Wright with actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost; Closed Circuit, the suspense thriller directed by John Crowley and starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall; the true-life dramatic thriller Kill the Messenger, directed by Michael Cuesta and starring Jeremy Renner; the comedic fable The Boxtrolls, the new animated feature from LAIKA, directed by Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable with a voice cast that includes Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, and Tracy Morgan; Black Sea, the suspenseful adventure thriller starring Jude Law for Academy Award-wining director Kevin Macdonald; Dallas Buyers Club, world-premiering at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, and Jared Leto; and Fifty Shades of Grey, the highly anticipated film adaptation of E L James’ #1 bestselling book that is being directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and stars Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson.

Focus Features and Focus Features International are part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

tom-hardy-lockeHere’s the press release for Locke:

Toronto (September 7, 2013) – In the first major deal of the festival, A24 announces the acquisition of North American rights to Steven Knight’s LOCKE. The IM Global film, which features Tom Hardy in a tour-de-force performance, premiered to rave reviews at its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and had its first screening for buyers in Toronto yesterday. Written and directed by Oscar nominated Knight, this is a groundbreaking story about a man struggling to save his personal and professional life, all filmed over the course of one riveting car ride.

A24 says, “This film is an extraordinary achievement in storytelling.  Steven Knight has built a singular, nail-biting experience around Tom Hardy’s remarkable performance.”

“A24 is exactly the right kind of ballsy, innovative distributor that an astonishing film like “Locke” needs. We are all delighted to be in business with the highly impressive A24 team whose passion and vision for the film gave them a leading edge on everyone else.” Says IM Global’s CEO Stuart Ford.

LOCKE was fully financed by IM Global under their specialty label Acclaim. and produced by Paul Webster and Guy Heeley of Shoebox Produtions. A24 negotiated the deal with CAA and IM Global. IM Global, a subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Reliance ADA, is also selling international rights.

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) has worked hard to craft a good life for himself. Tonight that life will collapse around him. On the eve of the biggest challenge of his career, Ivan receives a phone call that will set in motion a series of events that will unravel his family, job and soul. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Steven Knight and driven by an unforgettable performance by Tom Hardy, LOCKE is a unique cinematic experience that literally puts the audience in the passenger’s seat to watch the driver’s life fall to pieces.

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