MILAN — As Mifed moved to its halfway point Tuesday, the pace of sales picked up and anticipation started to build among U.S. buyers involved in imminent North American deals on three pics: John Boorman’s “The General,” Rose Troche’s “Bedrooms and Hallways” and Harry Hook’s “St. Ives.”

Miramax Films, eager to reverse the setback of being beaten to “The Theory of Flight” by Fine Line Features a fortnight ago, is thought to be the leading candidate for all three pics.

But Bingham Ray of October Films flew from Milan to Boorman’s base in Ireland on Tuesday to screen a very rough 90 minutes of the movie, which Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein had seen the day before.

The North American pricetag for “The General” reportedly is $4 million, and the pic had a budget of $9 million. That’s complicated by the fact that Boorman currently is toying with the idea of making the pic black-and-white, though he has shot it in color. It’s being sold internationally by J&M Entertainment, which is teaming on the U.S. deal with ICM’s Jeff Berg.

The community of U.S. buyers in the Fiera di Milano also reported that Pandora Cinema was claiming to have received a preemptive offer for North American rights to “Bedrooms and Hallways,” with Miramax again the prime suspect, and most of the other leading companies counting themselves out of the running at for the British-made gay romantic comedy.

The deal being talked up is in the $2.5 million range for a pic that barely cost that to shoot, and on which no footage is yet available.

Miramax eyes “Ives”

Meanwhile “St. Ives,” a British period romp being sold by Icon Entertainment Intl., also was reported to be on the receiving end of an enthusiastic courtship by Miramax, although word is that the producers have so much faith in the pic that they want to put off deals until it’s done.

October, Trimark, Live and Universal all are said to be circling “One Tough Cop” from MDP Worldwide, whose Marlon Brando starrer “Free Money” also is exciting interest.

But the company’s surprise market hit has turned out to be Trey Parker’s “Orgazmo,” a dark comedy about the porn business that has been sold to Village Roadshow for Australia and Greece, Taurus in Germany, Manga in Spain, Kuzui in Japan and France’s Canal Plus, plus around a dozen other territories. October picked up the movie at the Toronto fest.

Good Machine humming

Good Machine Intl., which reps Good Machine and October Films Intl., is racking up substantial sales at its first Mifed, even though most of its projects are only at script stage.

Poland’s Solopan and Israel’s Shani picked up virtually the company’s entire package. On top of that, “The Naked Man,” co-written by Ethan Coen, went to Bac in France and Lauren in Spain. Australia’s Globe bought “Love God.” “Year of the Horse,” the Neil Young concert movie directed by Jim Jarmusch, was picked up by Bac in France, Pandora in Germany, Asmic in Japan and distribs in several smaller territories. Spain’s Lider Film climbed aboard the untitled Todd Solondz project, Italy’s Mikado took “Three Seasons” and Spain’s Lauren bought “The Apostle.”

Miramax Intl. has been selling its usual big packages: nine pics to Scanbox in Scandinavia, seven to RCV in Benelux, eight to Bac in France and nine to Shockiku in Japan, with Ace picking up two more titles. In the U.K., Miramax, which usually has put all its bigger pics through Buena Vista, is looking to split its current crop between the Disney arm and Pathe Distribution.

“Durango” in demand

Alex de la Iglesia’s Tex-Mex road thriller “Perdita Durango” is proving a hot seller for boutique sales house Vine Intl. since the pic screened in London last week. Territories closed in recent days include Scandinavia, Japan with Nippon Herald, Latin America, South Africa, Hong Kong and various eastern European states.

Ciby Sales, soon to metamorphose into Goldwyn Films Intl., sold Niki Caro’s “Memory and Desire” to Italy’s Lucky Red, which also bought John Sayles’ “Men With Guns” and Deepa Mehta’s “Fire.”

Pedro Almodovar’s “Live Flesh” is on course to sell out worldwide by the end of Mifed, as is the Todd Haynes pic “Velvet Goldmine.”

Rysher farewell

In its farewell Mifed, Rysher Entertainment sold the upcoming Ralph Fiennes vehicle “Onegin” to RCV in Benelux, Aurum in Spain, Italy’s IIF, Eurocine in Argentina, West Video in Russia and Entertainment in the U.K., although many of these deals were completed long ago. It also persuaded Columbia TriStar Home Video to take Keith Samples’ “A Smile Like Yours” in Germany, Spain, Hong Kong, Austria, Romania, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Croatia and India. Col TriStar also bought Latin American rights to Spelling’s “In & Out.”

Lakeshore Intl. sold large packages of library titles to video and TV companies in Germany, Taiwan, Poland, Russia and Singapore.

Dream Entertainment, which debuted at Toronto, sold its comedy “Lover Girl” and “The Pass” to Telepool in Germany, Eagle Pictures in Italy, and several other territories.

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