Buyers swoon for sexy ‘Lady’

Lengthy favorite was turned down by Cannes

Buyers in Berlin this week have fallen hard for “Lady Chatterley.”

Gallic D.H. Lawrence adaptation has sold to dozens of territories and is poised to tie the knot with a U.S. distribber, according to sales agent Films Distribution.

It’s a stunning reversal of fortune for the rather lengthy 168-minute pic, which was turned down by more than one international film festival –including Cannes –despite having Gallic auteur Pascale Ferran as helmer.

Ferran won the Camera d’Or in 1993 for her first film, “Coming to Terms With the Dead.”

“Lady Chatterley” stars Marina Hands in the title role and Jean-Louis Coullo’ch as her illicit squeeeze. Hippolyte Girardot plays her paralysed husband, Sir Clifford.

Fest toppers may not have swooned, but the French crix did, and a steady trail of cinephiles saw the pic at French movie theaters, delivering producer/distribber Ad Vitam close to 200,000 ticket sales.

Interest revved up towards the end of 2006 when the pic started collecting Gallic kudos, including the presitigous Prix Louis Dellus for best French film of the year.

It is also in the running for the most Cesar Awards — nine — with Guillaume Canet’s “Tell No One.”  Gallic awards ceremony takes place later this month, the night before the Oscars.

Among the first buyers to spot the film’s potential, Japan’s Toshiba and Germany’s ZDF took those territories a year ago. Artificial Eye bought it for the U.K. at Unifrance’s Rendezvous in Paris last month. A raft of fresh deals include Scandinavia’s Future Films, Hopscotch for New Zealand and Oz, and Austria’s Statkino. Deals for Spain and Italy are in negotiations.

Films Distribution topper boarded the project at the script stage.

“D.H. Lawrence meets Pascale Ferran’s sensibility… we always thought there was something there,” said company topper Nicolas Brigaud-Robert on Monday. “And the film’s erotic nature also gives it added market value, that’s for sure.”

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