Newmarket nabs pair at Toronto

'Spun,' 'Hearts' to be released in first qtr. of 2003

TORONTO — Newmarket Films, the nascent distribution arm of Newmarket Capital Group, has leaped into action at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival, nabbing North American rights to Jonas Akerlund’s “Spun” and domestic rights to Danish-lingo film “Open Hearts,” helmed by Susanne Bier.

Both pics, acquired by newly-installed head of distribution Bob Berney, will be released during the first quarter of 2003. In addition, Newmarket has set Oct. 18 as the release date for its first theatrical pic, “Real Women Have Curves,” the HBO-produced 2002 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award-winner directed by Patricia Cardoso.

“Real Women” will open in New York, San Diego and Los Angeles; Newmarket, in conjunction with HBO, will subsequently release the pic in 20-30 markets.

“Spun,” screening in the fest’s Midnight Madness section, stars Mickey Rourke, Jason Schwartzman, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo and Mena Suvari.

“Spun” centers on a web of hardcore speed freaks. But Danish pic “Open Hearts” is another sort of film entirely. Shot Dogma 95 style, pic focuses on a young couple whose relationship is nothing short of ideal until a tragic accident separates the pair. Produced by Vibeke Windelov (“Dancer in the Dark”) and Zentropa, pic premiered in the fest’s Contemporary World Cinema section.

“This is one of those films that I just responded to,” said Berney. “I saw it with out knowing anything about it. It reminds me of the impact ‘Celebration’ and the best of Ingmar Bergman had. It’s a raw nerve, emotional film. We’re taking a chance with it, but I think it will pay off.”

Berney, who was integral with IFC’s distribution of such pics as “Y Tu Mama Tambien” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” said Newmarket will be roughly 60-70% acquisitions-based. Company plans to release some of the films that its production division, headed by Aaron Ryder, makes.

The distribution end of the company is run by Berney along with Will Tyrer and Chris Ball, the principals in Newmarket Capital Group.

Regarding the first theatrical release of an HBO pic, Berney said, “We will be fairly aggressive, as we did with ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien,’ in the cities with large Hispanic populations. We feel there could be real crossover audience for the film.”

Berney spoke of establishing relationships with producers like Zentropa and HBO, sales shingles such as Trust Film, the Danish company handling world wide sales on “Open Hearts” and with a cache of top directors such as Akerlund, Bier and Cardoso.

“All three of our movies are very different and original,” said Berney. “They’re all strongly directed and have different target audiences.”

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