'Ned' sale, 'Mrs. Dalloway' buoy numbers
Overseas Filmgroup’s sale of North and Latin American rights for “Waking Ned Divine” to Fox Searchlight Pictures for a whopping $5 million has dramatically buoyed the indie’s financial results for the three -and- six-month periods ending June 30.Overseas earned $210,629 in the second quarter, a big turnaround from the loss of $1.2 million for the same period a year earlier, the film distrib said Thursday. The earnings were generated by revenue that more than doubled to $8.4 million, while Overseas’ overhead costs fell 30% to $725,045. Income from operations was $659,914 compared with a loss of $1.6 million a year earlier. Overseas handled international sales on comedy “Ned,” an Anglo-French co-production starring Ian Bannen and David Kelly and directed by first-timer Kirk Jones. The sale was one of the few major acquisitions at this year’s Cannes fest. Results follow austerity Overseas’ positive results reflect the austere measures that it put into effect in May following two years of losses in 1996 and 1997 — primarily due to the weak performance of its domestic distribution division, First Look Pictures. Other factors in the turnaround are Overseas’ increased library sales, including deals with HBO and Showtime, and the successful U.S. release, via First Look, of the Marleen Gorris-directed “Mrs. Dalloway,” a picture that Overseas also funded. Overseas co-chairman Robbie Little said that the company was now moving ahead with several other productions. These include Julie Taymor’s “Titus,” starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange. Overseas is packaging and distributing the pic, while Paul Allen’s Clear Blue Sky Prods. and London-based NDF International are financing it. Shooting begins October 5. Distributing “Map” Overseas is handling worldwide distribution of Scott Elliot’s “A Map of the World,” starring Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore and David Strathairn, and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, with whom Overseas will co-own the negative. Shooting begins September 21. Overseas previously had indicated that it intended to find partners for most of its pics. In May it formed two production/distribution alliances: Filmtown, with Alan Mruvka and Marilyn Vance’s Ministry of Film outfit, and I Concept Films, together with French producer Alain Siritzky. The company has not announced any projects under these labels. Two other pics are in production: teen drama “American Pie,” starring Linda Hamilton and Eugene Levy, and action-thriller “The Runner,” starring Ron Eldard, Courtney Cox, John Goodman and Joe Mantegna. For the first six months, Overseas reported profit of $418,815 compared with a loss of $902,658 in 1997. Revenue for the first half was up 53% to $15.4 million.