Wild Bunch eyes pact with BIM

Gallic sales company deals for titles

Pursuing its ambitions to gain hold of a European distribution network, Gaul’s Wild Bunch is negotiating a pact with Italy’s BIM Distribuzione under which the two companies would jointly acquire product, or even become more closely associated, with Wild Bunch acquiring a BIM ownership stake.

BIM topper Valerio De Paolis told Daily Variety that he is merely “negotiating an agreement to buy some titles together” with Wild Bunch — declining to comment further. But the discussions are understood to have a potentially more far-reaching scope, with the Gallic sales company angling for an outright acquisition.

Wild Bunch, whose two-year-old distribution arm has been doing well in France this year, made its first foray into theatrical distribution outside the country earlier this month, partnering with leading Benelux indie distrib A Film.

BIM, the Italian distributor of “The Queen,” has not had an outstanding year so far.

Its 2007 releases have included Isabelle Huppert starrer “Private Property,” Turkish drama “Climates” and Sydney Pollack’s “Sketches of Frank Gehry,” all of which underperformed, even within their niche constraints, in what has become an increasingly tough market for arthouse titles.

Last year, Italo distrib Mikado was bought by publisher De Agostini from founders Roberto Cicutto and Luigi Musini, whose determinedly auteurish inclinations had driven it deep into debt.

De Paolis, however, is known as one of Italy’s most savvy buyers, with a knack for nailing top fest winners and crossover pics, which has kept him buoyant for over two decades.

BIM’s upcoming lineup includes three hot Cannes titles — Wong Kar Wai’s “My Blueberry Nights,” Julian Schnabel’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and Fatih Akin’s “The Edge of Heaven” — as well as Francis Ford Coppola’s “Youth Without Youth,” Todd Haynes’ “I’m Not There” and Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution.”

(Adam Dawtrey and Alison James in Cannes contributed to this report.)

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