At Bruce Willis’ last-minute Planet Hollywood bash celebrating the screening of ”Breakfast of Champions” at the Toronto International Film Festival, the baseball-capped actor sat in a corner with costar Nick Nolte and ”American Beauty”’s Kevin Spacey scarfing down cheeseburgers and fries. ”Ketchup, please,” Willis bellowed to a waitress, wiping his mouth with a napkin.
The ”Sixth Sense”r wasn’t the only one with an appetite at the 24th annual fest, where an unprecedented number of A-listers (including Jeff Bridges, Jewel, Annette Bening, Susan Sarandon, and Elton John) and 319 films created ravenous crowds and hearty helpings of good buzz. Though Toronto is noncompetitive, a handful of awards were given out: Jeremy Podeswa’s ”The Five Senses,” about five people who struggle with theirs, was named best Canadian feature. And ”Shower,” by China’s Zhang Yang, received an international critics prize. The event’s big winner, ”American Beauty,” took the People’s Choice trophy and hosted the most star-studded party, featuring David Schwimmer, Minnie Driver and beau Josh Brolin, and festival It Boy Tobey Maguire (in the well-received ”Ride With the Devil” and ”The Cider House Rules”).
But despite a favorable exchange rate, Toronto saw few studio shopping sprees. Artisan, expected to be on the prowl for the next ”Blair Witch Project,” left with nothing. Lions Gate grabbed one film, the Spacey drama ”The Big Kahuna.” ”The quality of available films was lesser than in past years,” says Lions Gate president Mark Urman. Fine Line picked up three films – ”The Five Senses,” the lesbian coming-of-age comedy ”But I’m a Cheerleader,” and the French love story ”Une Liaison Pornographique” – for low six figures each. ”Somebody,” says Fine Line president Mark Ordesky, ”is going to have to take my credit cards away.”