SPC, Weinsteins own foreign-lingo Oscar category

Closing on its third nominee for a foreign-language film Academy Award, Miramax Films has acquired North American rights to Jose Luis Garci’s 19th century costumer “The Grandfather.”

The pickup makes the competitive foreign-lingo category an intriguing face-off between the two major foreign-lingo distribbers in North America — Miramax and Sony Pictures Classics.

In this year’s race, Miramax — which has handled the top five highest grossing foreign-lingo pics of the ’90s — has “Life is Beautiful,” Iran’s “Children of Heaven” and now Spain’s “Grandfather”; Sony Pictures Classics has Brazil’s “Central Station” and Argentina’s “Tango.”

SPC was reportedly interested in viewing “Grandfather” but the filmmakers decided to go with Miramax’s concrete offer.

The fourth foreign-lingo Oscar nomination for director Jose Luis Garci, who won once with “To Begin Again” in 1983, “The Grandfather” has grossed over $3 million in Spain.

It stars Fernando Fernan Gomez, who won a Spanish Academy Goya for his perf in the pic, as an aged Spanish aristo who returns to his home village, nearly blind and penniless, to discover that one of his granddaughters is illegitimate.

The North American pickup of “The Grandfather” was negotiated on behalf of Miramax by senior VP Jason Blum and Agnes Mentre, exec VP of acquisitions and co-productions, and on behalf of “The Grandfather” co-producers, Nickelodeon 2, Spanish pubcaster Rtve and Kevin Williams, prexy of Kevin Williams Associates (KWA). Williams reps exclusive worldwide rights on “The Grandfather.”

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