Home Entertainment The Buzziest Films and Packages for Sale at Cannes 2024: ‘The Apprentice,’...

The Buzziest Films and Packages for Sale at Cannes 2024: ‘The Apprentice,’ Pamela Anderson’s ‘Last Showgirl’ and ‘Emilia Perez’ Starring Selena Gomez

5
0

Are we headed for a bon marché?

A new class of finished films and packages (unmade movies with big stars and a director attached) will travel to Cannes this week in search of cash and homes with the studios, streamers and global indie players.

The 2024 Cannes market comes equipped with some interesting contradictions. Stateside, the content buying machine is fraught. Major media stock prices are getting hammered day by day, and a new age of austerity has gripped the once free-spending tech giants. At the same time, distributors paralyzed by the 2023 Hollywood labor strikes need content to fill their slates for the end the year and the top of 2025.

“We’d agree that finished film volume isn’t as high due to the strikes, but Cannes is a much better setting for packages to begin with,” one top sales agent told Variety. “These movies can get financed out of the international marketplace, so why not take advantage of that and put people to work?”

These packages have bankable stars and heatseeking up-and-comers, including Kristen Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Colin Farrell and Sydney Sweeney. Other agents were equally eager to downplay a shortage of finished movies, but take a look at our most notable list below and you’ll see more than half (including honorable mentions) are unmade or entering pre-production. Any feature film getting made right now, however, should probably inspire relief in the industry.

Another important factor that bolsters Cannes sales is the annual awards race. Funny how quickly money doesn’t become an issue when Oscars could be on the table, and this year’s official selection could have a few contenders (Andrea Arnold, Paul Schrader, Sebastian Stan and Jeremy Strong to name a few).

Take a tour through the buzziest titles for sale in and around this year’s Marche du Film:

Official Selection

“Megalopolis”
Cast: Adam Driver, Nathalie Emmanuel, Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Giancarlo Esposito
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Agency: Barry Hirsch
Why Buyers Care: “Megalopolis” walks into the festival with more interest and notoriety than perhaps any film in recent memory. Coppola’s pricey, self-financed sci-fi epic made waves earlier this year when it screened for over 300 potential buyers in Los Angeles. Described at “batshit” crazy and “orgiastic,” industry players wondered what kind of distribution might be possible for such a film. Coppola was said to have favorited a major theatrical release and a splashy worldwide scenario that would also include a streaming component. It never came. Soon after, Cannes announced it would screen the film in competition, and just days ago “Megalopolis” negotiated sales for key international territories, minus paid video-on-demand and streaming rights. The path is clear for a significant U.S. buyer, and it may all come down to the film’s Thursday premiere on the Croisette.

“Bird”
Cast: Barry Keoghan, Franz Rogowski, Nykiya Adams
Director: Andrea Arnold
Agency: CAA, Cornerstone
Why Buyers Care: Arnold’s return to the Croisette is easily one of the hottest tickets of the festival. To say the director is native to Cannes would be putting it mildly. Notable works of hers to have premiered here include “Cow,” “American Honey,” and “Fish Tank.” Add to that the star power of Keoghan and “Passages” breakout Rogowski, plus the familiar Arnold terrain of teenage rebellion and surviving broken families.

“The Apprentice”
Cast
: Sebastian Stan, Jeremy Strong, Maria Bakalova
Director: Ali Abbasi
Agency: CAA, WME
Why Buyers Care: Marvel hero Stan starring as a young Trump, navigating a Faustian deal with the treacherous lawyer Roy Kohn (Strong) is plenty incentive. Bakalova as Ivana? Take our money. And let’s not discount the admired director Abbasi, whose “Holy Spider” played Cannes to great notices in 2022 and landed him a gig directing on the hit first season of HBO’s “The Last of Us.”

“Oh, Canada”
Cast
: Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Jacob Elordi
Director: Paul Schrader
Agency: WME, Arclight
Why Buyers Care: 77-year-old Facebook superstar and lightning rod Schrader returns with a film that feels close to home. Gere stars as an octogenarian filmmaker who, stricken with cancer, agrees to narrate the story of his own life. But can the caddish auteur be trusted to tell the truth about what really went down? Bonus interest here for Thurman back in a dramatic role and, of course, “Euphoria” heartthrob Elordi.

“Emilia Perez”
Cast
: Selena Gomez, Karla Sofia Gascón, Zoe Saldana, Edgar Ramirez
Director: Jacques Audiard
Agency: CAA
Why Buyers Care: Audiard is a household name in France and won the Palme d’Or for his 2015 feature “Dheepan.” Mind you, this was after setting the film world on fire with his universally praised 2006 drama “A Prophet.” Here he takes the star power of Gomez, Saldana and Ramirez for a wild genre ride – musical crime comedy – about an unsatsfied young lawyer who falls in with a cartel leader longing for a different life.

“The Surfer”
Cast
: Nicolas Cage, Julian McMahon
Director: Lorcan Finnegan
Agency: WME, north.five.six
Why Buyers Care: In a wildly unpredictable finished film market, genre films may be the only safe bet. Cage has also become a virtuoso for films at this budget level (“Pig,” Mandy”), and this latest thriller sees him as a dad looking for revenge against a local pack of thugs who lay claim to the secluded beach where he played as a child.

“To Live, To Die, To Live Again”
Cast
: Victor Belmondo, Lou Lampros and Théo Christine
Director: Gaël Morel
Agency: CAA, Goodfellas
Why Buyers Care: Morel based this ‘90s-set drama on his own anxieties around the rise of AIDS, as well as research he did for a documentary about victims and survivors. His trio of stars play a throuple whose romantic follies collide with the epidemic’s arrival in France. All expecting the worst, each character takes an unexpected turn. This kind of authentic narrative has awards legs, evidenced by the defiant and acclaimed 2017 film “BPM.”

Packages

“The Last Showgirl”
Cast
: Pamela Anderson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kiernan Shipka, Billie Lourd, Dave Bautista, Brenda Song
Director: Gia Coppola
Agency: CAA, Goodfellas, Utopia
Why Buyers Care: Anderson is in renaissance mode after her 2023 Netflix documentary recontextualized her bombshell legacy and exploitation at the hands of men and Hollywood. CAA will be on the ground showing footage from this Coppola project, which is already earmarked as a breakout performance for Pam. She plays the titular showgirl at a career crossroads when her 30-year Las Vegas review closes abruptly.

“Belly of the Beast”
Cast
: Colin Farrell, Ben Stiller
Director: Andrew Haigh
Agency: CAA, Village Roadshow, UTA, mk2
Why Buyers Care: After Haigh’s acclaimed “All of Us Strangers,” which frankly not enough people saw, he’s back with an unlikely star match in Stiller and Farrell. The film follows the true story of the friendship between notorious literary titan Norman Mailer (Stiller) and his protégé, Jack Henry Abbott (Farrell) – a pairing which ends in tragedy.

Untitled Christy Martin Biopic
Cast
: Sydney Sweeney
Director: David Michôd
Agency: UTA, AC Independent, Black Bear
Why Buyers Care: As if we had to say anything more than “Sydney Sweeney.” The “Euphoria” breakout has proven to have box office clout (“Anyone but You”) and dramatic chops (the Berlin player “Reality”). Here she steps up to play Martin, a trailblazing female boxer of the ‘90s who also battled toxic relationships and a near-fatal domestic attack.

“Out Late”
Cast
: Ron Perlman, Rupert Everett
Director: Thomas Michael
Agency: WTFilms
Why Buyers Care: Though a major domestic agency has not come on board to rep sales on this rom-com, we’re calling it as a hidden gem of the market. Salty dog Perlman (“Don’t Look Up,” “Hellboy”) plays a blue-collar Italian widower confronting a lifelong secret. Everett, as an out gay dancer who befriends Perlman, inspires courage as the latter’s family tries to force him back into the closet.

“Power Ballad”
Cast
: Paul Rudd, Nick Jonas
Director: John Carney
Agency: 30WEST, WME, UTA
Why Buyers Care: Carney is a twee movie musical machine, having pumped out hits like Oscar winner “Once,” “Sing Street,” “Begin Again’ and the recent “Flora and Son.” Here. he tells of a middle-aged wedding band singer (Rudd), whose life take a turn when he’s shafted for a writing credit on a song he made with a former boy bander (Jonas). Rudd’s character sets out to reclaim his work and a lost career, with his family in the balance.

Honorable Mentions

As previously stated, this year’s market is saturated with starry packages that could easily grab worldwide or domestic deals during or ahead of production. These include: “The Queen of Fashion,” a biopic of style icon Isabella Blow, costarring Emilia Clarke, Hayley Atwell and Richard E. Grant; “Way of the Warrior Kid,” a McG film produced by and starring Chris Pratt as a Navy SEAL who helps his struggling nephew; the railroad thriller “Let the Evil Go West” reuniting “Pam & Tommy” stars Sebastian Stan and Lily James; James McAvoy’s directorial debut “California Schemin,’” about two Scottish guys posing as rappers who find unexpected success and must hustle to keep their lie going; and the Kirsten Stewart-Oscar Isaac ‘80s vampire indie “Flesh of the Gods.”