The Cannes Film Festival doesn’t begin in earnest until tomorrow, when The Great Gatsby opens the prestigious 12-day cinematic showcase and the shiniest of celebrities descend on the luxurious Mediterranean resort, but the Cannes film market is already revving on all cylinders. Warner Bros. is reportedly on the verge of acquiring the U.S. rights to How to Catch a Monster, Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut that he’ll also star in, along with Eva Mendes, Saoirse Ronan, and Christina Hendricks. The fantasy film is still in production, but as Deadline originally reported, the weight of Warner Bros. will likely boost interest in the film’s international rights when buyers convene at Cannes next week.
UPDATE: Click below for other high-profile deals from Cannes.
Another project that will surely attract interested buyers during the festival is Rocketman, the long-in-the-works Elton John biopic written by Billy Elliot scribe Lee Hall and to be helmed by commercial director Michael Gracey. “Much like the life of Elton John the man, Rocketman is the larger than life movie spectacle that brilliantly captures the universal struggle of self-love that we all face,” said Joe Drake, co-founder of Good Universe, which will handle international sales. “Director Michael Gracey’s vision for this movie is overflowing with everything that makes for great event cinema.”
John isn’t the only icon whose early days as a childhood prodigy are getting the movie treatment. Exclusive Media is bringing soccer great Pelé himself to Cannes to sell Imagine Entertainment’s biopic about the life of the Brazilian soccer legend. Michael and Jeff Zimbalist (The Two Escobars) will direct the film, which follows Pelé from his impoverished beginnings to world fame at the 1958 World Cup.
In another pre-Cannes announcement to help boost international interest, The Weinstein Company went all-in for Samuel L. Jackson’s Kite, picking up worldwide sales rights to the live-action remake of the graphic 1998 Japanese anime. The movie, directed by Ralph Ziman (The Zoo Keeper), recently completed filming, and TWC told the Hollywood Reporter that potential buyers can expect a peek at some footage next week.
Lionsgate announced the North American acquisition of The Quiet Ones, a supernatural thriller starring Jared Harris and Sam Claflin, about a mysterious professor leading his students in his dangerous experiments to create a poltergeist. The film already has an April 25, 2014 release date.
Lionsgate UK also announced a spate of deals for six British films: Born to be King with Kate Hudson and Ewan McGregor, Locke with Tom Hardy, Horns with Daniel Radcliffe, The Keeping Room with Sam Worthington and Hailee Steinfeld, What We Did on Our Holiday with Billy Connolly and David Tennant, and Love, Rosie with Lily Collins and Sam Clafin.
Nicolas Cage will star in Hotel 33, a surreal thriller that will be shopped to Cannes buyers ahead of its start-date in September. Cage will play a Pennsylvania police detective in 1953 investigating the disappearance of 34 people from the local hotel. Open Road Films will distribute the film theatrically in the U.S.
HBO picked up the North American television rights to Seduced and Abandoned, the documentary that Alec Baldwin and James Toback made at last year’s Cannes Film Festival while they tried to raise funding for a proposed movie. “When James and Alec set out to make this documentary, it took a different turn,” said Michael Lombardo, president of programming at HBO, in a statement. “What resulted is something uniquely special and wonderfully entertaining.” Seduced and Abandoned will premiere at Cannes this week.
Vision Films picked up the worldwide rights to a documentary executive-produced and featuring Sharon Stone. Femme tells the story of women’s evolving role in modern society, and features interviews with Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Nobel laureates, and the music of Yoko Ono, among others.