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Sony Pictures Bets On Dramas For Grown-Ups [Headlines]

Sony sees an influx of heavy drama pictures this year as the awards season nears.

Amelia Riley Swan
  • 13 september 2011

TORONTO — “This was not by design,” said Michael Lynton, the chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Mr. Lynton referred to an eruption of pictures, 11 in all, that have turned his company into a dominant presence among American film distributors at the Toronto International Film Festival, which often sets patterns that hold through the movie awards season.

Mr. Lynton spoke on Friday evening in Sony’s lush hospitality suite at the Ritz-Carlton hotel here. He had just ducked out of a gala across the street, where Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman and other stars were introducing Sony’s baseball-themed drama “Moneyball.” Soon he would head off to another gala to promote “The Ides of March,” another Sony drama that is dropping into the Oscar season.

“Anonymous,” an Elizabethan-era thriller starring Rhys Ifans, is a third entry from Sony’s flagship Columbia Pictures unit, while Sony Pictures Classics, an art house division, is contributing no fewer than eight films to the festival.

It is an extraordinary showing, in a year when Warner Brothers, Disney and the main studio labels at Fox, and Universal Studios, laid low.

In the last half-decade, some studios folded or sold small-film units like Warner Independent Pictures and Disney’s Miramax Films, while others severely curtailed their commitment to the adult dramas that frequently turn into prize contenders. Now the grown-up side of Hollywood, in some quarters, at least, is experiencing a resurgence.

 

Newer distributors like Relativity Media, with its Africa-based social drama “Machine Gun Preacher,” or Summit Entertainment, with its cancer-themed “50-50,” are stirring up the festival circuit.

 

Meanwhile, some of the established players — notably Sony, as well as the Weinstein Company, which has landed in Toronto with six films — are releasing surprisingly robust slates of thoughtful, star-heavy movies, the kind of pictures that only a few years ago appeared headed toward extinction. New York Times

 

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