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As successful as Chris Rock's career as a comedian has been, the same can't really be said for him as either a lead actor or a director. Ensemble films like Grown Ups and animated movies like Madagascar have certainly raised his profile, but let's also not forget that his record includes forgettable titles like Down To Earth, Bad Company and Head of State (which he also directed). This history doesn't seem to be causing any studios pause regarding Rock's newest film, however, as the comedy is starting a huge bidding war at the Toronto International Film Festival.
News of this in-development deal comes from Deadline, which says that Sony, Paramount, Fox Searchlight, Open Road, A24, Relativity and Lionsgate have all been looking to buy Chris Rock's Top Five, and they're willing to pay top dollar to do so. While the numbers continue to grow, the most recent update has said that the price has gone over $10 million (a big deal for a TIFF sale).
Top Five, previously known as Finally Famous, is Rock's first directorial effort since 2007's I Think I Love My Wife and also features him in the lead role. The comedian-turned-film star plays Andre Allen, a comedian-turned-film star who is looking to change his public perception and change up his career by doing a serious drama. This turns out to be a major mistake, but his celebrity rebounds when it's announced that he will be televising his marriage to a young reality star (Gabrielle Union). To help publicize the event, Andre agrees to an interview with New Yorker reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), and the conversation takes more than a few twists and turns before it's ended. Deadline notes that the movie is filled to the brim with big names, bringing in not only the two aforementioned talented actresses, but also fellow stand-ups like Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, Kevin Hart, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Pharoah.
The film reportedly got an extremely positive response at its Toronto International Film Festival premiere, which obviously is a big part of what's causing the aforementioned bidding war. When we actually get to see Top Five for ourselves completely depends on which company winds up winning the distribution rights and their determination of when it will best strike a chord with audiences. Is it serious and good enough to be a film that runs during this year's award season? Or is it a lighter piece that could be a breakout next spring? Is it big enough to launch during the summer? These will all be questions that we will hopefully get answers to soon. Stay tuned for more updates about who actually winds up winning!