Manga flexes muscle at AFM

Spanish distrib seals deals with Nu Image, 2929, Content, First Look

MADRID — Flexing its beefed up buying muscle, Spain’s top indie distributor Manga Films has acquired all Spanish rights to a four pic-package from sales agent Nu Image, headed by Sylvester Stallone’s “Rambo IV.”

Closed at the recent American Film Market, deal includes “New Orleans,” a story about narcotics officers toplining Robert De Niro and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson;” thriller “The Cleaner,” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Sharon Stone; and “Brand Hauser: Stuff Happens” (aka “War, Inc.,”) with John Cusack, Hilary Duff and Marisa Tomei.

Manga also inked in Santa Monica with sales agent 2929 Intl. for three titles: period drama “Mary Queen of Scots,” toplining Scarlett Johansson; Vadim Perlman’s thriller “In Bloom,” with Uma Thurman as a woman haunted by a high-school tragedy; and the James Wong and Glen Morgan-produced and helmed remake of ’70s horror pic “Black Christmas.”

In other AFM deals, Manga’s prexy Luis de Val signed with ContentFilm Intl. for Richard Attenborough’s WWII romantic story “Closing the Ring” and with First Look Intl. for Tennessee Williams’ adaptation “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond,” toplining Lindsay Lohan.

The aggressive acquisitions represent an exception to the troubled Spain’s indie distribution market, with most companies picking up very selectively at this AFM.

Whammied by the collapse of Spain’s pay TV market in 2003, the Barcelona-based distribber survived thanks to a strong DVD operation and an important movie package deal sealed with pubcaster TVE.

Manga’s financial muscle was strengthened all the more last July when it was acquired by Spanish telco and media tech giant Avanzit to become part of a media division that the company plans to float early next year.

“We will maintain the release levels we had two years ago — 20 titles a year — but focus on the biggest movies from U.S. multinational distributors,” De Val told Daily Variety.

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