French company adds to Euro network

ROME — Wild Bunch has taken a minority stake in leading Italian indie distrib BIM Distribuzione, adding a third territory to the Gallic group’s fledgling pan-European network.

Deal comes a month after Wild Bunch raised 25 million euros ($34.1 million) in equity and launched a $150 million film finance venture with U.S. investment fund Continental Entertainment Capital.

Earlier this year Wild Bunch set up a housekeeping/distribution deal with Benelux distrib A Film.

Its French theatrical subsid has been up and running for around two years.

Owned and run by vet Italian distrib Valerio De Paolis, established indie BIM releases around 15 films a year, mostly high-profile international titles, and makes revenues of $21.3 million to $28.4 million annually.

Under the terms of the deal with Wild Bunch De Paolis will remain at the helm, distributing including international fare from other sources, selected titles from Wild Bunch’s own international line-up (it doesn’t have any Wild Bunch titles on its release schedule) and films destined only for the Italian market.

On the acquisitions side, De Paolis could also bring Wild Bunch international titles that it will take for its other territories.

Brahim Chioua, Wild bunch’s chief operating officer told Daily Variety: “As well as being an excellent distributor Valerio De Paolis is very talented at acquisitions. There isn’t a single film on BIM’s line-up that we wouldn’t like to have for other territories.”

Recent pick-ups include Ang Lee’s recent Venice Lion winner “Lust, Caution.” BIM’s upcoming releases include Francis Ford Coppola’s “Youth Without Youth,” world-preeming at the Rome fest Saturday, and Cannes titles “My Blueberry Nights,” and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”

De Paolis said he would bring Italo projects to Wild Bunch for possible co-productions and potential sales via the well-oiled Wild Bunch sales machine.

“One of the goals of this alliance is to allow BIM to basically branch-out as a co-producer of Italian movies,” De Paolis said. Under the terms of the deal, at a later stage Wild Bunch could up its stake in the Italian company.

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