The 5 Films Likeliest to Ignite a Toronto 2010 Bidding War

Greetings from Toronto! Movieline's Canadian HQ is up and running for this year's Toronto International Film Festival, that annual ritual of 300 films and just about as many brutally tough viewing decisions over the course of a week. (It helps that our fine, discriminating critics Stephanie Zacahrek and Michelle Orange are checking in soon as well.) But if festgoers have tough decisions, imagine being a distributor faced with dozens of buzzy titles and a checkbook to pick up only one or two. You've got to make it count -- and here's where they're likeliest to fight to the death to do so.

No offense to Robert Redford (The Conspirator), Mike Mills (Beginners), Keanu Reeves (Henry's Crime), Werner Herzog (the 3-D Cave of Forgotten Dreams), Errol Morris (Tabloid) and the gaggle of other talent with titles on the market, but from the looks of things, these five are shaping up as the films set to go first as the fest gets underway today.

[In alphabetical order]

· Everything Must Go

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Fired sales manager and six-months sober Nick Porter (Will Ferrell) returns home one day to find his possessions -- and himself -- cast out of his house by his wife. An five-day yard sale, wagon-tumble and journey of self-discovery follows. Based on Raymond Carver's short story.

UPSIDE: Ferrell is on a roll, and there's that whole recession-era theme that should (or at least could) hit a nerve with his constituency. Did I mention Will Ferrell's in it? The guy's on Bill Murray's career path; he's gotta cross over at some point.

DOWNSIDE: Might alienate the Ferrell base, which didn't respond especially well to his last high-ish concept attempt at dramedy, Stranger Than Fiction. (Or the execrable indie Winter Passing before that.) First-time writer/director Dan Rush is an unproven commodity; can he make his megastar work for him? Will Ferrell do the actual press a film like this needs?

POTENTIAL BUYERS: Sony Pictures Classics, Focus Features, Anchor Bay (an underdog, but stranger things have happened)

HOW MUCH? Under $3 million

tiff_bid_rabbit_hole.jpg· Passion Play

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A down-on-his-luck jazz trumpeter (Mickey Rourke) is taken hostage after attempting to break into a car. He winds up at a circus (?) where he falls in love with a winged woman (Megan Fox); their budding relationship is threatened by a droll, deep-pocketed gangster named Happy Shannon (Bill Murray). I can't make this up, but writer-director Mitch Glazer apparently can.

UPSIDE: Megan Fox's slump aside, this cast in this film doing these things is pretty much the textbook definition of "irresistible." Unless...

DOWNSIDE: ...What if it sucks? Glazer has reportedly been attempting to make this film for the better part of two decades (he originally wrote it for his wife Kelly Lynch, who now appears in a supporting role); it was either ahead of its time or terrible, or some combination of both. But at its worst I can't see it being anything less than a mystifying failure whose cast sells itself.

POTENTIAL BUYERS: Fox Searchlight, Relativity Media, Summit Entertainment

HOW MUCH? Under $5 million

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  • Sarah says:

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