‘Shame’ igniting pre-Toronto bidding war?

Posted by · 9:04 pm · September 7th, 2011

I first reported out of Telluride that Fox Searchlight was looking like a good possibility to pick up Steve McQueen’s brilliant, stirring — and naughty — “Shame,” and expanded my thoughts on that possibility in Tuesday’s Off the Carpet column. Well, it looks like Deadline’s Mike Fleming is hearing similar things, and not just that Searchlight is in the mix, but that the film is kicking up a bidding war ahead of its Toronto bow. He writes:

This year’s festival hasn’t started and already there are fireworks. Deadline broke news yesterday that Harvey Weinstein would start a VOD business, making the acquisitions market for fringe films more competitive; and last night, I heard that a bidding battle had already broken out for the Steve McQueen-directed Shame, which should be sold by the time it screens Sunday. Fox Searchlight is the favorite, Sony Pictures Classics is in the mix and I’ve heard that The Weinstein Company is hovering.

He goes on to add that all potential buyers are interested in releasing the film for Oscar consideration this year, which is brazen. I don’t see this sure-to-be NC-17 film lighting up Academy types, and I would think those sniffing around it would be smart enough to see that. Not that I don’t want it campaigned as such. The more who see it, the better, and potential awards (Indie Spirits would certainly be in the cards) would only broaden the audience.

Harvey Weinstein has been known to pick up films just to dump them and get them out of the way of his product, but I don’t see “Shame” as much of a threat to his awards hopefuls. It could be a nice way to launch his new VOD shingle, which Fleming alludes to.

There are plenty of films still up for grabs at the fest. Fleming goes on to detail them and when they’re expected to screen throughout the fest. Check out more at Deadline.

We’ll be reporting on whatever coverage goes out from Toronto this season, just as we did last year. Fingers crossed something comes along to shake things up.

[Photo: See-Saw Films/Film4]

→ 45 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

45 responses so far

  • 1 9-07-2011 at 9:12 pm

    MJS said...

    I feel like there is still money in releasing movies in December as if they have award potential even if they aren’t ultimately going to get Oscars. They’re still fresh in the minds of critics when they make top tens, and it generally gives them residual prestige.

  • 2 9-07-2011 at 9:14 pm

    John said...

    Kris, you didn`t believe in There Will be Blood and Black Swan too!!

  • 3 9-07-2011 at 9:14 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Absolutely, MJS. Stirring any kind of talk for little films is a great way to get more box office.

  • 4 9-07-2011 at 9:15 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    John: COMPLETELY different situation. Trust me.

  • 5 9-07-2011 at 9:21 pm

    Mr. F said...

    Anyone but Weinstein, please.

    And for a while I thought that maybe Fassbender could make a play for a nomination despite the guaranteed NC-17 rating like Ellen Burstyn for Requiem for a Dream. But then I realized that as great as he is, Fassbender doesn’t yet have the level of appreciation that Burstyn had at that poing. And it seemed brave of her that she took on such a role.

  • 6 9-07-2011 at 9:22 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Plus, Fassbender’s isn’t a performance that gnaws the scenery to the bone. It’s very internal, controlled, nuanced.

  • 7 9-07-2011 at 9:24 pm

    /3rtfull said...

    “Shame” can be released without a rating; the same as Oscar nominated “Requiem for a Dream” — that ends the NC-17 debacle.

  • 8 9-07-2011 at 9:24 pm

    mikhael said...

    Fox Searchlight really knows how to market a movie, although I don’t know how they are they going to make out of that rating.

  • 9 9-07-2011 at 9:26 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    /3rtfull: Indeed. But that doesn’t exactly change things. It’s all about the content, which will be difficult for Academy types. Period.

  • 10 9-07-2011 at 9:30 pm

    /3rtfull said...

    “Fassbender’s isn’t a performance that gnaws the scenery to the bone. It’s very internal, controlled, nuanced.”

    Is this a criticism of Burstyn or Aronofsky’s direction?

  • 11 9-07-2011 at 9:41 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    Glad to hear this. Even though it would take a hefty campaign push and likely some heavyweight support from upper echelon (think Clooney) actors in its corner, it’d be great if Fox Searchlight got a hold of this and developed it into one of the stories of the season. We could use something exciting like that.

  • 12 9-07-2011 at 10:11 pm

    J. said...

    I’m rooting for SPC… Searchlight has already has its work cut out for it come December, and Weinstein will just sweep it under the rug in favor of ‘The Artist.’

    ‘Midnight in Paris’ is what it is… SPC needs something to do, and ‘Shame’ needs someone to stump for it. Match made.

  • 13 9-07-2011 at 10:20 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    /3rtfull: No, it’s a fact. It’s a showy performance. Fassbender’s is not.

    J: Sony Classics already has a full plate, too. Midnight in Paris, A Dangerous Method, Carnage. And all with concentrated Oscar efforts.

  • 14 9-07-2011 at 11:03 pm

    mary said...

    Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics can not release “Shame” without a rating, because their parents are MPAA members.

    Sony Pictures Classics’ plate isn’t full yet, otherwise they wouldn’t not want to buy “Shame”.

  • 15 9-07-2011 at 11:06 pm

    Fitz said...

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Fox Searchlight. Don’t let Weinstein get anywhere near it.

  • 16 9-07-2011 at 11:07 pm

    mary said...

    Correction : Sony Pictures Classics’ plate clearly isn’t full yet, otherwise they wouldn’t want to buy “Shame”. (sorry for typos in previous message)

  • 17 9-08-2011 at 12:02 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    mary: The point was they have as many films to deal with as Searchlight.

  • 18 9-08-2011 at 12:16 am

    mary said...

    I see your point, Kristopher . SPC do have many potential Oscar contenders to work with (“Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress” may be another one.)

    On the other hand, Fox Searchlight only have two Oscar contenders to work with (in fact, they don’t have any film to release in Dec 2011), so Fox Searchlight may more feel to buy “Shame” and then release the film in Dec 2011.

  • 19 9-08-2011 at 12:23 am

    mary said...

    sorry… I forget “The Tree Of Life” (which would be FS’s oscar contenders along with “The Descendants” and “Martha Marcy May Marlene”).

    Still, Fox Searchlight don’t have any film to open in Dec 2011, and they have much fewer Oscar contenders than SPC and TWC.

  • 20 9-08-2011 at 2:41 am

    matsunaga said...

    “It’s all about the content, which will be difficult for Academy types. Period.”

    Kris, does this mean “Shame” is already hopeless to be an Oscar contender?

  • 21 9-08-2011 at 3:16 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Matsunaga: If you read the article again, you’ll see Kris has already said, “I don’t see Shame as much of a threat to [Weinstein’s] awards hopefuls.” How much clearer need he be?

    I agree, by the way. It’d be silly to weigh this film with any sort of awards expectations. It’s not so very far from Hunger, after all.

  • 22 9-08-2011 at 4:02 am

    matsunaga said...

    Oh sorry about that Guy, I think it was just it’s hard to believe a film as good like this will likely be ignored for its content… I was actually hoping for even just an acting nomination for Fassbender ala Williams in “Blue Valentine” if in the event Weinstein get it…

  • 23 9-08-2011 at 4:28 am

    m1 said...

    SPC has Take Shelter as well.

  • 24 9-08-2011 at 6:41 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    Here’s to hope that “Martha Marcy May Marlene” finds an audience this fall – it deserves it.

    Obviously, as a stateside North Texas dweller, I haven’t seen “Shame,” but it just doesn’t sound like Weinstein material.

  • 25 9-08-2011 at 6:42 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    *Here’s hoping…

  • 26 9-08-2011 at 7:28 am

    JJ1 said...

    One would like to think that Shame’s buzz of 1) being excellent 2) NC-17 3) studio bidding wars … would get enough actors in the AMPAS acting branch to say “well Hell, I guess I’ll give it a look” — and Fassbender/Mulligan could be a vague possibility.

    But I trust Kris & Guy when they say ‘it ain’t happenin’.

    Just hopeful that AMPAS would give a ‘not up their alley’, yet supposedly superb film a chance, I guess.

  • 27 9-08-2011 at 8:34 am

    Danny said...

    If anything, Shame might help Fassbender’s and/or Mulligan nom chances cumulatively, like Chastain’s might be helped by giving strong performances in many films this year. These things can cancel themselves out but they can also amplify if votes coalesce around one of the performances. But which? The Help for Chastian? or Take Shelter? Drive for Mulligan or Shame? A Dangerous Method for Fassbender or Shame after all? Or none of the above…

    I see the difficulties Kris and Guy point too. But I also felt especially excited about Shame after reading those first reviews. Possibly that excitement and the distributor buzz now may result in Academy types being curious enough to give this film more consideration than expected? Every now and then contained performances in difficult films do sneak through with nominations.

  • 28 9-08-2011 at 8:42 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I think it was just it’s hard to believe a film as good like this will likely be ignored for its content…

    Films as good as this, and better, get ignored year after year for any number of reasons. Let’s not pretend awards season really celebrates the cream of the crop.

  • 29 9-08-2011 at 8:57 am

    JJ1 said...

    This is true

  • 30 9-08-2011 at 9:02 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    mary: Searchlight has Win Win, Tree of Life, The Descendants and Martha Martha May Marlene, all with planned Oscar pushes.

  • 31 9-08-2011 at 9:59 am

    ninja said...

    Fass has a better chance with Shame cause histrionics seem to upstage everyone and everything in ADM. He definitely isn`t the story of ADM.

    I also think people (not here but I see this on other forums) should stop comparing every single small movie and praised central performance to Portman`s awards sweep. Kris is on the money – it isn`t the same situation. Black Swan became a blockbuster. None of these ADM`s, Shame`s, Idles of March`s, Descendants`s,etc have a shot at becoming huge and at least 3 can`t expect to be even moderately successful at the boxoffice.

    Also, Fass is going to be a star when he opens a movie and that hasn`t happened so far. General public doesn`t know who he is yet because X Men obviously didn`t become that vehicle. I think he`ll be perfect Bond, though. Love him.

  • 32 9-08-2011 at 12:40 pm

    Danny said...

    True, Ninja, Fassbender may wind up putting out good performances for a while before he finally receives award nom recognition, like the Bales, Hoffman’s, Giamatti’s etc. of the world. There is a history of actors being overlooked again and again until the academy finally nominates them and even gives them the statue in what seems like late in the game for those of us who have been following their careers for years.

  • 33 9-08-2011 at 2:12 pm

    ninja said...

    I know, right? Still, better long career without Oscar than Oscar curse. Though I think he and Hardy, another standout, will end up with the gold eventually.

  • 34 9-08-2011 at 2:16 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    If it’s any comfort, knowing what I know about Fassbender, I don’t think he could care less about Oscar recognition.

  • 35 9-08-2011 at 2:53 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Interesting to know.

  • 36 9-08-2011 at 3:22 pm

    J. said...

    I just figured SPC’s pushes for ‘Carnage’ and ‘Method’ would be more obligatory than anything. People seem already to have moved past them, save for Foster, Waltz, and Knightley. And ‘Midnight’ seems destined for a screenplay nomination (and nothing else) despite the campaign.

    On the other hand, ‘Shame’ seems to have people genuinely excited. And I think it’s fantastic everyone has written off its awards potential — I do think some Academy types could take an interest, but only if they’re double-dog-dared not to.

    Out of curiosity, is there a possibility whoever nabs ‘Shame’ will label Mulligan as Supporting? Or is she irrefutably a lead, with Beharie in supporting? I’m not trying to lessen the film’s integrity by viewing it only through the lens of awards, but I’ve been wondering how much weight Mulligan’s role pulls compared to Fassbender.

    In any case, watched ‘Hunger’ again last night, and can’t wait to catch this.

  • 37 9-08-2011 at 4:06 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    She’s supporting. Beharie is great but very little screen time.

  • 38 9-08-2011 at 11:05 pm

    Findley said...

    Blue Valentine, NC-17, Best Actress Oscar nomination for Michelle Williams last year…

  • 39 9-08-2011 at 11:07 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Blue Valentine was a Disney movie compared to the sexual content of Shame.

    I appreciate that people want to champion the film’s Oscar chances, but you should really see it before thinking you know how far it could go based on evidence from past films that don’t really matter in this scenario.

  • 40 9-08-2011 at 11:28 pm

    Rashad said...

    I’m curious, is there any point to this movie other than seeing this guy go through this fucked up period in his life?

  • 41 9-08-2011 at 11:28 pm

    Findley said...

    So, not the NC-17 rating per se that would keep it from getting any noms… Is Shame perhaps more akin to the buzz that followed Last Tango in Paris (1972)? (Which nevertheless garnered two Oscar noms.) All this will be answered when I see it, I suppose.

  • 42 9-09-2011 at 3:02 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Guys, you’re getting hung up on the NC-17 barrier when the sexual content is hardly the only thing that makes this emphatically not an Academy movie — it’s Steve McQueen’s entire filmmaking and storytelling style that I suspect isn’t up their street. You really need to see it before making snap equations involving other adult-oriented dramas with which it has little in common. (Also, let’s not forget that Blue Valentine wasn’t ultimately an NC-17 film — it got an R on appeal.)

    And Findley, you’re perhaps a little closer to the mark with the Last Tango comparison, but let’s not assume that film would earn two Oscar nods in this day and age. The 1970s was by the far the Academy’s most adventurous decade.

    Rashad: Couldn’t you boil down any number of terrific films down to that glib one-line synopsis?

  • 43 9-09-2011 at 5:10 am

    JJ1 said...

    ^ this is very true.

    Could any of us really see ‘Hunger’ doing well with AMPAS (as far as the filmmaking/storytelling) is concerned?

    And, the fact that I didn’t care for ‘Hunger’ (Fassbender impressing, in any case) gives me pause about ‘Shame’, too.

    As Kris said, we should all see ‘Shame’ before making predictions/declarations. Though, I’ve sometimes been guilty of doing that in the past. ;)

    And Guy, I wonder WHY the 70’s was the Academy’s most adventurous decade. Is it as simple as socio-cultural changes/shifts?

  • 44 9-09-2011 at 8:18 am

    Rashad said...

    I’m sure you could Guy, but a lot of them have something going for it besides the path of destruction. As someone who hated Hunger, I wonder if he repeats the same problems in this film.