EXCLUSIVE: One of the plum acquisition titles at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival is about to be taken off the table and will premiere in Canada with an eye toward launching in awards season. After a mad pursuit by prestige distributors, Sony Pictures Classics is in negotiations on a deal for the Annette Bening-starrer Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool. I’m told the deal will be done before the fest, and is in the $2 million range for North American rights plus some additional territories. The idea will be to capitalize on Bening’s winning performance in the film, with early buzz among those who’ve seen it that this could be Bening’s year.
In the Paul McGuigan-directed film, Bening plays actress Gloria Grahame. An Oscar winner for The Bad And The Beautiful who co-starred in It’s A Wonderful Life and numerous noir films, Grahame also lived a provocative off-screen life that included a marriage to Rebel Without A Cause helmer Nicholas Ray and a subsequent union with his son Anthony Ray. She found herself alone and with numerous kids to support when the movie work dried up. The film takes place after she relocated to the North of England where she performed in dinner theater type shows, and where she developed a relationship with a much younger 20-ish-year-old man, who is played by Jamie Bell.
The film is based on Peter Turner’s memoir of his affair with Grahame and all that happened to the actress in her later years as she weathered a health scare. The film is financed by EON Productions’ Barbara Broccoli, who knew Turner and had met Grahame and who is best known as the gatekeeper of the James Bond franchise. Broccoli nurtured the project for years, and it came together with a stellar cast that includes Julie Walters, Vanessa Redgrave, and Kenneth Cranham.
Broccoli produced with Colin Vaines, and WME Global is brokering the deal.