After an all-night negotiation session which ended with a signed contract at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, The Weinstein Company acquired distribution rights to designer-turned-director Tom Ford's "A Single Man," the hottest movie at the Venice and Toronto film festivals.
TWC beat out Summit and Focus for the film, with the deal for the rights landing in the low seven-figures, according to one executive involved with the negotiations. The deal, which is the only bidding war at the festival thus far, also included a commitment to open the film in 30 U.S. cities, and an undisclosed marketing commitment.
The film screened to an enthusiastic response at Toronto on Monday night, and distributors immediately began jockeying for the rights.
Firth received the Best Actor prize in Venice; it's slated to play at the London Film Festival on October 16th and at the Tokyo Film Festival on October 19th.
The deal is the latest feather in the Weinsteins' cap, after having endured months of speculation about the survival of their company with one release flopping after another.
But last month the Quentin Tarantino epic "Inglourious Basterds" became an international hit. Snagging the sought-after Ford project from two competitors is a sign of confidence in the company's future from players like CAA.
Starting from heated discussions in the lobby of the Four Seasons, Ford and Harvey Weinstein personally cemented the terms of the deal as they worked into the early hours of Tuesday discussing collaboration and marketing strategy.
At about 3 am, competitors including Summit and Focus were sidelined to give the Weinstein company space to make the deal. (Up until then, competing bids would interrupt negotiations among the princiapls, which went on in CAA's suite at the hotel, led by partner Bryan Lourd and Roeg Sutherland.)
The deal was finally signed at 10:30 am on Tuesday.
The film stars Firth as a gay man dealing with loss and a breakup. Julianne Moore plays his hard-drinking, smoking divorcee best friend.
"I could not be happier working with the Weinsteins on the release of 'A Single Man,'" Ford said in a prepared statement. "Harvey and I have talked about a collaboration for years, since our first meeting more than 10 years ago. I am ecstatic that we will finally be working together."
"Tom Ford and I have been friends for the better part of ten years," Weinstein said. "I am proud to say that I always thought he would be a great filmmaker. The emotionality of the piece and the universal humanity on display in this film makes us proud to be in this industry and especially proud be a part of this debut."
The film will be released in 2009 and will get a strong Oscar push.
"The strategy of how to release picture is what got us the movie," said David Glasser, who runs Weinstein Company's international division. "Tom and Harvey had specific ideas on the picture and what they’re going to do."