PARIS - Bucking Berlin's market downturn, Euro film/TV group Studiocanal is closing a weighty deal on its market debut "Man Up" and has sold much of the world on its major auteur crossover offering at Berlin, "Untitled Stephen Frears Project."
New French comedy "Barbecue," with Lambert Wilson ("Of Gods and Men"), also kicked off robust international sales.
Starring Simon Pegg ("Star Trek Into Darkness") and Lake Bell ("In a World"), and produced by the U.K.'s Big Talk, Ben Palmer's "Man Up" is the subject of advanced negotiations for a multi-territory deal with a Hollywood studio taking in Latin America and a sizeable portion of Europe.
A romantic comedy in the vein of "When Harry Met Sally," "The Proposal" and "The Five Year Engagement," said Anna Marsh, Studiocanal head of international film sales, "Man Up" has also closed Benelux with eOne.
First footage will be show at Cannes. Studiocanal is in talks for the CIS, Israel and Portugal. It will distribute directly in the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand.
Produced by Working Title ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"), "Untitled," a noirish thriller with gangster elements, turns on the rise and fall of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, played by Ben Foster ("Kill Your Darlings").
"Untitled" closed Italy (Videa) just before Berlin. Off six minutes of footage screened at Berlin, Studiocanal has now licensed Spain with Vertigo, Frears buffs, having also bought "The Queen" and "Philomena." Studiocanal will distribute "Untitled" itself in the U.K., France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
A major pan-Latin America acquisition will go down very shortly, Marsh said. There is also "a lot of heat" from the U.S, she added.
First introduced to buyers at the American Film Market, "Untitled" has now cleaned up on multiple smaller territories around the world: Taiwan (Catchplay), Hong Kong (Golden Scene Co.), South Africa (M-Net), Middle East (with new outfit Selim Ramia & Co.), ex-Yugoslavia (Cinemania Group), Portugal (Lusomundo), Czech Republic (Hollywood Classics) and Bulgaria (A-Plus Films). A brace of other territories - the Baltics, Greece, India, Switzerland, Poland and Israel - are under negotiations.
Based on the book "Seven Deadly Sins," by journalist David Walsh, played in "Untitled" by Chris O'Dowd ("Bridesmaids"), Frear's next co-stars French actor-director Guillaume Canet ("Tell No One") and "Breaking Bad's" Jesse Plemons.
On "Paddington," the first North America acquisition by new label TWC-Dimension, of major markets, only Spain, Scandinavia and Japan are left to sell, Marsh said.
Berlin headlines include sales to three top territory distrib leaders: Eagle for Italy, Noori Pics for South Korea and Medyavizyon for Turkey.
A pan-Latin American will also imminently close," Marsh said.
Budgeted at around $50 million, the CGI-live action family movie stars Colin Firth (voices the bear), Nicole Kidman as the villainess and Hugh Bonneville ("Downton Abbey") as Mr. Brown. "Paddington" will be only the second fully-financed Studiocanal production to be put through a same-time worldwide release. It will world preem in the U.K. Nov. 28, then open Dec. 3 in France, Dec. 11 in Australia and New Zealand and Dec. 12 in the U.S.
Going in to Berlin, North America, Benelux, Switzerland, the CIS and Eastern Europe, Israel, Middle East, South Africa, Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines were already sold on "Paddington," Marsh said.
Studiocanal is now working to close India, Indonesia and Thailand at the Hong Kong's Filmart next month. At Berlin, Studiocanal showed a teaser sizzle reel and first images showing a quick glimpse of the bear, designed by London VFX co Framestore, which won a best special VFX BAFTA Sunday for "Gravity."
"The feedback from the market was that this looks and feels like a studio film which is on the open market," Marsh said.
Skewed at 35s-pluses - it stars Lambert Wilson turning 50, seeking more excitement in life, so is "perfect for the French cinemagoer abroad," Marsh said - new French comedy, "Barbecue," closed Spain (A Contracorriente Films), Italy (Academy 2, which also bought "Chinese Puzzle") and Benelux (Cineart) off three teasers. Studiocanal is in ongoing negotiations for other territories across the world, Marsh said. Studiocanal will distribute in France,
Both Berlinale Specials, Hossein Amini's "The Two Faces of January" and Felix Herngren's "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared" have pretty well sold out.
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