Varied slate produces strong sales

Summit Entertainment has virtually sold out its powerful slate worldwide, in what topper Patrick Wachsberger said “could well be our best Cannes ever.”

Pics as diverse as the George Clooney starrer “Michael Clayton,” Atom Egoyan’s competition entry “Where the Truth Lies,” the dance project “Music High,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Babel,” David Ayer’s “Harsh Times” and the Adam Sandler-produced “Nana’s Boy” have been snapped up by a variety of different distribs in each major territory, with Summit resisting package deals.

“We really had a perfect line-up this time, with different budgets and different prices, something for everyone depending on their taste,” Wachsberger said.

“There might be some obscure territories like Turkistan still available, but apart from that we’re done,” he added.

In Italy, for example, Medusa took “Michael Clayton” and “Music High” in two separate deals a week apart, while RAI’s 01 label picked up “Babel” and Fandango bought “Where the Truth Lies.”

In the U.K., Universal acquired “Music High,” Pathe nabbed “Michael Clayton” and Momentum stepped up for “Where the Truth Lies.”

U also picked up “Music High” for France, where Studio Canal bought “Babel,” Tf1 acquired “Where the Truth Lies” and SND/M6 took “Michael Clayton” and the Beacon movie “The Guardian.”

“In terms of buying hunger and prices being paid, the market is way up,” observed Summit’s Bob Heyward. He noted that the most “selective” of the major markets was Japan, but said that distribs there were still paying “good prices” for the right pics.

One big factor fuelling sales is the weak dollar, which makes American movies significantly more affordable for Euro distribs.

Wachsberger said that the fact there was no AFM in February created a pent-up demand from buyers for major movies.

Summit is also seeing the benefit of its own investment in development, which started seriously three years ago and is now bearing fruit with pics such as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “Music High.”

“The studios are focusing on their big tentpole movies, and after they’ve done that they are realizing they need additional product, and we can do that in partnership with the studios,” Wachsberger said.

Disney’s Touchstone label, for example, has boarded “Music High” for North American distribution, a project which started life as a concept dreamed up within Summit. “We wanted to do a certain kind of project we felt was not available in the marketplace, a ‘Fame’ or a ‘Flashdance’ that was edgy but not too ethnic, that could work in domestic and foreign,” Wachsberger explains.

With “Where the Truth Lies,” producer Robert Lantos noted that Egoyan is reaching into whole new territory commercially. “In every country, the distributor is someone who hasn’t handled an Egoyan film before. This is a $23 million film that is designed to reach a much broader audience than any film he has made before.”

Aside from the territories already mentioned, “Truth” has been sold to Movie Eye in Japan, Telemuenchen in Germany, Lola in Spain, Media So-So in Korea and Svensk in Scandinavia, among others.

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