Things are not at all well in Smokingville. Fox Searchlight and Paramount Classics are each certain that they acquired sole international rights to Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking over the weekend in Toronto, and despite Variety's earlier report that the two mini-majors might team up to release the film, Napoleon Dynamite-style, right now it looks like neither studio is willing to budge. To recap: Paramount insists that they locked Reitman and producer David Sacks in on a $6 million deal before the involved execs hit the party circuit on Saturday night. While they were out, Reitman and Sacks actually signed a contract with Fox for a $9 million, foreign and domestic package. That studio's got the signature to prove their case – all Paramount got to seal their respective deal was a handshake.

The whole thing is apparently causing much debate in Toronto this week. A lot of people think the handshake deal is par for the festival course; others say Paramount should have never let Reitman go off into the evening without signing on the dotted line. Regardless of public opinion, Paramount is said to be looking into their legal options. But they won't get too far if Sacks has anything to say about it; he released a statement yesterday that read, "The fact that multiple studios bid intensely for this movie is a testament to what Jason has achieved. However, I want to be clear that only one studio, Fox Searchlight, bought the movie. Although we had negotiations with Paramount Classics, no deal was ever concluded."

This whole thing strikes me as incredibly silly for a number of reasons, but mainly, I think any exec who remembers the Sundance/Happy. Texas fiasco would be wary of
participating in such a sales scuffle for fear of falsely inflating the property at hand. How will anyone be able to rationalize their legal bills if this film – a comedy from an unproven director with few-if-any awards prospects – flops anywhere nearly as badly as Happy did?
categories Movies, Cinematical