What ‘Bad Education’ Taught Us About the Slow Toronto Film Festival Market

Variety | 9/16/2019 | Ramin Setoodeh
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“Bad Education,” a dramedy starring Hugh Jackman as the embezzling superintendent of district of schools in Long Island, N.Y., was set to be this year’s “I, Tonya.” The movie has the same biting tone, shifting between comedy and tragedy. It received strong reviews out of the Toronto Film Festival. And like “I, Tonya,” it even co-stars Allison Janney, this time playing a corrupt school administrator instead of the heartless matriarch to Tonya Harding.

But while “I, Tonya” soared out of Toronto two years ago, landing a fast distribution deal with Neon to the tune of $5 million, “Bad Education” has yet to stick the same landing. The movie debuted at TIFF on Sept. 8 to a jam-packed Sunday screening, running up against showings of high-profile films such as “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” with Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers; “Hustlers,” carried by Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez; and “Jojo Rabbit,” an edgy comedy about a German boy during World War II whose imaginary best friend is a whimsical version of Adolph Hitler.

Reaction - Bad - Education - Festival - Deal

Despite highly favorable reaction, “Bad Education” did not leave the festival with a deal. Eight days later, it’s still wading through deep negotiations involving multiple players with no clear head of the class. The delay could put its prospects for next year’s Oscars in question. Every day counts: The Academy Awards telecast has been moved up to early February. If Jackman and Janney are indeed eligible for acting trophies in a few months, their campaigning days are numbered. Jackman’s window to work the circuit is even slimmer, as he’s about to start production on Lisa Joy’s sci-fi love story “Reminiscence” at Warner Bros.

As Toronto has come to a close, many buyers, sellers and producers are wondering how much trickier the quickly transforming movie market has gotten since a success...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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