Friday, January 22, 2010

Sundance Rights RoundUp - More Activity Internationally Than Domestically

At Sundance this year, more than usual activity immediately kicked in among the international buyers and the international sales agents bulking up in preparation for the Berlinale's EFM even as the US distributors were slow to show much energy in acquisitions.  First out of the gate for the Americans was Lionsgate's acquisition of Buried .  Next came extended discussions with CAA and Apparition and its ancillary distributor partner Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquistions for Splice for what is rumored $2.5 million while an independent source supplies $20 million P & A.  Next came Newmarket's $1 million acquisition of Hesher.  The Oprah Winfrey Network acquired Family Affair.  OWN's documentary film club is being done in partnership with doc film distributor Ro*co Films International.  OWN, a co-venture between Winfrey's Harpo Prods. and Discovery Communications slated for a January 2011 launch, is planning to create communities nationwide that can screen the films together and participate in a live, moderated panel discussion. Closing the festival, IFC took US rights to Wild Bunch's The Killer Inside Me, and North American rights to Joan Rivers - A Piece of WorkPhase 4 acquired North American rights to The Freebie in a mid six figure deal.  And somewhere along the way, Roadside Attractions picked up US rights to Winter's BonesFocus acquired The Kids are All Right.  And finally The Weinstein Company, back in the fray to such a degree that rumor has it they have been approached by 2 hedge funds about buying back their Miramax name, has acquired two films in Sundance, Blue Valentine and The Tillman Story for North America and all English language territories from A&E IndieFilms (via Submarine and CAA). Catfish went finally to Rogue for US.  First Independent acquired Holy Rollers for US February 21.

Other US buyers spotted in Anne Thompson's blog thusly:
"...despite reports of pulling back on production at Overture Films, execs Chris McGurk and Danny Rosett are trawling Sundance for good titles to buy. So are SPC, Apparition, Harvey Weinstein, Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, Fox Searchlight, Magnolia and IFC. And also in town checking out movies that will inevitably not land big theatrical sales are so-called 'self-service' distribs Russell Schwartz’s Pandemic Marketing, Mark Urman’s Paladin" whose platform also helps connect producers with ancillary deals. Urman said he can even help a film transition from a service deal to a traditional rights sale to a bigger distributor as it starts attracting attention in the marketplace, Richard Abramowitz's Area23a  whose goal "is to acquire social issue and music films and the idea is to combine event and screening and you can target those subjects’ fans. We create this army who proselytize to an audience and it spreads the word.” per Abramowiz, Larry Greenberg's Phase 4, Andy Reimer's Inception Media Group and Susan Margolin and Steve Savage's New Video which has begun to acquire narrative features beginning with Gil Holland's Bass Ackwards. and Tom Ortenberg's One Way Out Media just contracted for by Hannover House to release Twelve.  Nolan Gallagher, founder and CEO of Gravitas Ventures, said his company now releases about 300 films a year on-demand at 40 cable TV operators, and the industry already is at a point where a producer can realize a profit via an on-demand deal. For a more complete list of US distributors, see my blog from Toronto.

The Rights RoundUp with its preponderence of international rather than US activity follows here:

Arte's film Fix Me was acquired by Other Angle for France.

CAA licensed Catfish to Relativity for US, Canada and UK. Rogue will release it through Universal in US.

Cat & Docs licensed The Last Train Home to Zeitgeist for U.S.

Cinetic licensed worldwide rights for Holy Rollers to Pyramide International.

Fortissimo acquired worldwide rights, excluding North America, to the Miramax documentary Jean-Micheal Basquiat: The Radiant ChildLife During Wartime (not a Sundance title) went to IFC for US.  Head of now extinct Miramax, Daniel Battsek has moved on to head National Geographic replacing Adam Leipzig who is moving into production.

Gaumont licensed Twelve to Hannover House for a rumored $2m for North American rights. CAA and Gaumont negotiated the deal. Hannover has hired Tom Ortenberg’s One Way Out Media to oversee domestic distribution sometime in 2010.

Hanway has licensed Nowhere Boy to Alta for Spain.

Hyde Park 's Blue Valentine went to The Weinstein Co. for North America and pan-Asian TV rights for approximately $1m.  Deal was brokered by William Morris Endeavor (WME) Entertainment.

Inferno Entertainment's The Kids Are All Right went to Focus Features for U.S., the U.K., Germany and South Africa.  Bart Walker and John Sloss of Cinetic Media negotiated the North American rights deal on behalf of the filmmakers and collaborated with Inferno Entertainment on the international aspects of the pact.  The deal is said to have been made for between $4,500,000.  It has also gone to Hopscotch in Australia and New Zealand, Swen in Latin America, and Seven Films in Greece.

Kimmel 's Hesher was picked up via WME by Newmarket for North America for what is rumored to be around $1,000,000. Per Screen Daily, Newmarket's high seven-figure p&a commitment will kick off  the theatrical release in select cities later this year, expanding into at least half of the top 75 markets within three weeks of release. Newmarket distributor came in aggressively for Hesher at the eleventh hour after several buyers had been talking to CAA and WME Global, among them Lionsgate.  Kimmel is also selling the Sundance film Sympathy for Delicious starring Orlando Bloom.

Kinology's Buried repped for North America by UTA's Independent Film Group, went to Lionsgate for North America for for what is rumored to be between $3M and $4M.

LevelK, Tine Klint's (former head of sales at Nordisk Film and TrustNordisk) new sales company has picked up Estonian director Veiko Öunpuu’s The Temptation Of St Tony (Püha Tonu Kiusamine). The film is the first Estonian feature to screen at Sundance and is also competing in this year’s VPRO Tiger Awards at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, which opens on January 27). It will has also been selected to close the Göteborg Film Festival (Jan 29-Feb 8). Öunpuu picked up the MEDIA European Talent Award in Cannes for the script.  LevelK has also taken rights to Öunpuu’s 2007 feature debut, Autumn Ball (Sügisball), which won the Horizons Award in Venice, and screened at many international festivals, among them Tallinn’s Black Nights, Thessaloniki, Marrakech, Valencia, Brussels and Bratislava.

Myriad Pictures acquired international rights to happythankyoumoreplease.

The Coproduction Office, with Cactus Three has licensed Women Without Men to IndiePix for North America.  Indiepix also has worldwide rights to All My Friends are Funeral Singers.

The Match Factory picked up worldwide rights to Howl Sundance's opening film in the narrative section.

Shoreline acquired worldwide rights to its second Latino film Contracorriente (Undertow) for a low six figure amount. Wolfe acquired North American rights to it.  Shoreline had acquired Zona Sur (Southern District) which is also showing in Sundance at Ventana Sur in November and last year acquired La Nana (The Maid) at Sundance.

Paramount Vantage acquired Davis Guggenheim's new documentary about the crisis in public education in the U.S. Waiting for Superman which was developed, financed and executive produced by Participant Media who backed Guggenheim's previous doc An Inconvenient Truth.

Submarine and CAA licensed Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary I’m Pat Tillman to The Weinstein Company for North America and all English language territories. Submarine licensed The Freebie to Phase 4 for North America, Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work to IFC for No. America.

Summit and Bill Pohlad's River Road have licensed The Runaways to E1 for Canada  It has also sold to Long Shong for Taiwan and Planis for South Korea.  Summit and River Road also licensed Terence Malick's The Tree of Life to E1.  Apparition has US rights to both films.

T & C Pictures International (David Jourdan's new international sales company) has acquired international rights from WME Global to Teenage Paparazzo.  WME Global still represents North American rights.

The Film Sales Company sold His & Hers to Madman in Australia and New Zealand. His roster also includes worldwide rights to The Imperialists Are Still Alive! as well as Night Catches Us.  The company also has English-speaking rights to The Man Next Door.

Visit acquired worlwide rights to The Taqwarcores before its Sundance premiere.

Voltage has licensed Tucker & Dale vs Evil to Wild Bunch for France and Germany and to Svensk for Scandinavia and Maple for Canada.  Negotiations are ongoing with Australia and Spain and there are offers from other territories as well as interest shown among North American buyers.

Wide Management picked up worldwide rights to All That I Love while it showed in Pusan.

Wild Bunch licensed U.S. rights to Gaspar Noe’s Sundance 2010 feature Enter the Void to IFC in the first pre-Sundance deal.  The Killer Inside Me also wentto IFC for US in the last Sundance deal before its closing night for $1,500,000.

Variety's Monday edition makes its set of predictions: (the titles stuck out have made deals since last Monday)
"Winter's Bone, one of the sleeper hits at this year's Sundance...At least four buyers are holding discussions with the film's reps, ..The Tillman Story is in play. ...Catfish is a favorite as well, with HBO said to be particularly interested...The Freebie had a promising premiere on Sunday...Splice... is also seeing interest from a number of domestic distributors...Blue Valentine...Distrib vet Mark Urman, as well as Oscilloscope's David Fenkel, were enthusiastic...with both expressing interest in distributing the film. Other buyers were more circumspect...Monday night's preem of Annette Bening-Julianne Moore drama The Kids Are All Right...heavily attended by buyers."

Screen International's list of films soon to sell includes Catfish, The Perfect Host, Winter’s Bone, The Company Men, Lovers Of Hate, The Pat Tillman Story, and 8: The Mormon Proposition, The Extra Man, Diego Luna’s Abel, and Kevin Asch’s Holy Rollers, and Cane Toads: The Conquest.

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