Bunch is Wild about ‘Orfanato’

Ghost story co-produced by Del Toro

Following its bumper U.S. box office and Oscar-nom trawl for “Pan’s Labyrinth,” Picturehouse has closed U.S. rights on another Spanish-language fantasy horror pic, again sold by France’s Wild Bunch, and again associated with Guillermo Del Toro.

Pic is Jose Antonio Bayona’s gothic ghost story “El Orfanato” (The Orphanage), which was produced by Joaquin Padro and Mar Targarona’s Barcelona-based Rodar y Rodar. They teamed with broadcaster Telecinco’s Estudios Picasso, which bankrolled “Labyrinth.”

“Orphanage” has found homes in major territories worldwide save for Japan, making it one of Berlin’s faster sellers.

From a screenplay by Spain’s Sergio Sanchez, “Orphanage” turns on a mother (Belen Rueda, “The Sea Inside”) who takes over the orphanage in which she was raised. But her young son begins to play with an imaginary friend, the same imaginary friend that terrorized her when she was a child.

Del Toro co-produced the film, acting as creative supervisor, tutoring first-time helmer Bayona.

Sums paid for the $5.2 million “Orphanage” were near and sometimes above those poneyed up for “Labyrinth,” said one buyer.

The U.S. deal looks likely to be substantially below the reported $6 million that Picturehouse — the joint venture between New Line and HBO — stumped up for North America on “Labyrinth.”

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