You may think film festivals are like other festivals, but with audiences and press attending and watching movies. It mostly is, but it’s also somewhere production companies and studios make deals for upcoming and potential projects.
Things have begun early for Toronto as Variety are reporting Altitude Film Sales will be representing to buyers at TIFF the worldwide rights to a sci-fi thriller called The Occupant.
The project has a lot going for it, especially by adding upcomer and future Hollywood leading lady Ella Balinska to lead.
You may recognise the name as the British actress starred in the recent Charlies Angels reboot and was one of the best things about that movie. Additionally, she was one of the finalists to play Catwoman in The Batman before the role went to Zoe Kravitz.
Balinska also has the Blumhouse horror/thriller Run Sweetheart Run and has recently been cast in the Netflix series, Resident Evil.
The film itself is based on Hugo Keijzer’s short film of the same name and it was a hit on the festival circuit. Kejizer will be co-writing with Philip M. Howe and Roelof-Jan Minneboo and direct the feature with shooting in Georgia and Ireland in early 2022.
The film is described as a “high concept sci-fi thriller, with a powerful psychological story at its core.” That story revolves around Balinska, who will play Abby and she must navigate through the Russian wilderness embarking on a quest to help her dying sister.
On working with the talented Ella, Kejizer said, “I’m thrilled to be working with Ella on this. She embraces the unique challenges that come with this project and she’s not afraid to reveal her most vulnerable side. I believe she has all the makings of a superstar.”
I couldn’t agree more, which is why I believe this project will be picked up quickly at Toronto as it should be the low/mid-budget features studios should be looking towards.
The streamers will be the top contenders, with Amazon the likeliest place in this scenario. Netflix will also put a bid in, and in this case they might be interested in continuing to work with Ella.
However, I do hope it gets a big theatrical release and New Line Cinema being a decent home as they’re the sister studio to Warner Brothers. New Line is home of lower budgeted flicks that most of the time make a successful profit without the pressures of WB execs ruining it.
I can’t wait to see what happens and who picks the film up for the rights.