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Focus pix pull in record sales

Studio brings in over 100 deals at Cannes

Focus Features Intl. has had its best-ever Cannes market, racking up well over 100 deals, according to sales and distribution prexy Alison Thompson.

She reports bidding wars in territories such as the U.K., France, Italy, Germany and Scandinavia across the entire Focus slate.

“We’re more or less sold out,” she said. “The fact that the slate is very broad has really helped. Some buyers see our Steve Carell vehicle as the highlight, some the Michel Gondry movie and some the David Cronenberg thriller.”

Wherever possible, she has spread the slate around multiple distribs in each territory.

“We’ve been able to be sure we’re working with as many distributors as possible,” she said.

“When you have a lot of films, it’s easy to get lazy about it and fall into the trap of just selling them all to one distributor. But that’s not healthy for us and not healthy for the various markets.”

Thompson is keen to point out that she is not just funnelling her premium titles towards Universal, the parent company of Focus, as some indie distribs feared.

There’s only one territory — Spain — where U is likely to get the lion’s share of the slate, but that’s because the indie marketplace is suffering badly from DVD piracy and the weakness of the TV biz.

In the U.K., Focus has sold Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises” and Gondry’s “Be Kind Rewind” to Pathe; Carell-starrer “Dan in Real Life” to Icon; and horror remake “The Hitcher” and ping-pong comedy “Balls of Fury” to U.

In France, Metropolitan has taken “Eastern Promises” and “Balls of Fury”; M6 has bought “The Hitcher” and Zhang Yimou’s “Curse of the Golden Flower”; and EuropaCorp picked up “Be Kind Rewind” and “Dan in Real Life.”

In Germany, “Be Kind Rewind” went to Senator; “Dan in Real Life” to Telemunchen; and “Eastern Promises” and Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild” to Tobis.

Sandrews picked up “Be Kind Rewind” for Scandinavia, with Svensk taking “Dan in Real Life,” “Eastern Promises” and “Balls of Fury.”

Australia’s Roadshow bought “Eastern Promises,” “Balls of Fury” and “Be Kind Rewind,” with Icon taking “Dan in Real Life” and “The Hitcher.”

In Japan, Tohokushinsha acquired “Be Kind Rewind” and “Balls of Fury,” while Stylejam bought “Into the Wild.”

Russia’s Paradise took the entire Focus slate. In Korea, the slate was split between Sponge (“Be Kind Rewind”), Mars (“Eastern Promises”) and I-vision (“The Hitcher” and Asif Kapadia’s “The Return”).

Thompson was not ready to announce deals in Italy, where the bidding wars are still going on.

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