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Three films premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival pose a unique problem: how does a studio sell a movie whose star has passed away? It's a delicate balance, notes The Hollywood Reporter.
Fox Searchlight is bringing "Enough Said," one of James Gandolfini's last films, to the festival, while the late Cory Monteith appears in two movies: "McCanick" and "All the Wrong Reasons." Gandolfini died of a heart attack in June, and Monteith passed away in July after an accidental drug overdose.
"There's a tremendous amount of grief and emotion associated with distributing and releasing an artist's final work," said Lisa Gutberlet, the senior vice president of worldwide distribution at Myriad, which is selling international rights to "All the Wrong Reasons." "That being said, everyone, including Cory, was proud of this film, and we believe it stands on its own merits independent of the additional press. But there are genuine challenges in keeping the backstory and the project as separate entities, which may be impossible."
"Enough Said" producer Anthony Bregman echoed those sentiments, saying that filmmakers were initially concerned that Gandolfini's death would distract audiences from the film's plot, but added that the movie's merits speak for themselves.
"[W]ith the film, you lose yourself, and it's no longer about Jim Gandolfini and whether he's alive or dead," Bregman said. "The fun parts are still funny, but the sad parts are even more poignant."
Festival senior programmer Steve Gravestock emphasizes that the festival is first and foremost about the films, and audiences shouldn't let "the media frenzy around tragedy ... take focus off the quality" of the festival's offerings.
"I hope that the hard work and accomplishments of these filmmakers is not overshadowed," Gravestock said.