BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK
By Ari Altstedter September 12, 2013
The lights hadn’t even come up at the world premiere of “Can a Song Save Your Life?” when Marc Schipper’s BlackBerry began buzzing with messages from distributors clamoring for rights.
The drama, starring Keira Knightley playing a singer trying to make it in the music business, had been flagged by publicists and organizers at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival as one of the hottest titles for sale. It didn’t disappoint.
“Even before the credits were rolling, we had a bunch of offers in, people saying, ‘Don’t go to anyone else because we really want this movie,’ ” Schipper, chief operating officer of Exclusive Media Group and the negotiator for the film’s producers, said in a Sept. 10 telephone interview.
After an all-night bidding war, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s namesake company bought the U.S. distribution rights for $7 million. Organizers say the deal was one of the biggest in the festival’s 38-year history and highlighted Toronto’s place as one of the world’s leading film markets.
Perhaps the greatest battle played out at downtown restaurant Patria on Sept. 7. As Knightley, co-stars Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and director John Carney (“Once”) held court on a narrow patio, representatives from The Weinstein Co., Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF:US) pressed through the party’s 250 guests to make their pitch, according to Tobin Armbrust, one of the film’s producers.
Band of Spartans
He likened the scene at the restaurant to a battle depicted in the 2006 movie “300” in which the Persians struggled to surge through a gap in the mountains defended by a small band of Spartans.
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